Missouri women's golf team honors Johnie Imes' legacy

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 | 10:38 p.m. CDT; updated 3:41 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Florida International University golfer Katie Mundy (left) hugs MU's Kate Gallagher (center) next to Texas State's Krista Puisite (right) on Tuesday at the 18th hole during the Johnie Imes Invitational golf tournament. The players wore pink in honor of the Birdies for a Cure breast cancer fundraiser.

COLUMBIA — The Fifth Annual Johnie Imes Invitational was not the same as the previous four.

For Pam Adkison, the golf tournament was a different experience without her mother, Johnie Imes, who died in January.

Many in attendance attempted to subdue tears during the award ceremony when Missouri women's golf coach Stephanie Priesmeyer described Imes' importance to the program with Adkison looking on.

Missouri finished sixth at 42-over-par for the three-round tournament that ended Tuesday at Old Hawthorne Country Club. Texas State won the event at 15-over-par and had three of the top five individual golfers.

Afterwards, Adkison described how she was overwhelmed by memories of her mother at the tournament. She remembers when Imes was asked to become the tournament's namesake.

“When Stephanie called her, she was so overwhelmed,” Adkison said. “And she called me and was crying. And I said, ‘Mom, call her back.’”

At last year’s tournament, Adkison recalls, Imes was not well but was determined to come to the event. Imes sat in a chair outside the clubhouse and needed oxygen, but she was there supporting Missouri golf — like always.

She talked to the girls as they came off the 18th green, encouraging them and admiring their shots. Adkison said she has been blessed by the invitational and its uniqueness because her mother was so blessed by it.

“I knew she was somebody who was very exceptional, but it’s nice to know other people knew that too,” Adkison said.

In addition to helping start the tournament, Imes helped the Missouri women’s golf program fund six endowments, which raises more than $25,000 every year.

Imes contributed to and served as inspiration for the founders of the Birdies For A Cure program, which helps raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization.

Missouri golfers Madison Marcolla and Michelle Morgan, who were both seniors at the time, started Birdies For A Cure in 2009. In part, it was in response to Marcolla’s mother being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Marcolla was determined to make a difference and for the first two years, the program raised more than $9,000. Priesmeyer guessed they raised another $2,000 this year.

They raised money by sponsoring individual golfers and teams in the tournament and with general donations. A sponsor would donate money for every birdie made by their golfer or team.

Unfortunately for Missouri, the birdies that were made and the money raised did not add up to a victory.

Sophomore Kate Gallagher, a Savannah, Mo., native, was tied for third place individually going into the final round but shot a final-round 86. She tied for 36th, shooting 71-72-86--229.

“Kate was extremely nervous,” Priesmeyer said. “I think she thought too much about ‘what could’ve been’ too soon.”

Senior Hannah Lovelock and sophomore Taylor Gohn both shot 75 in the final round. Lovelock was Missouri's low finisher with rounds of 73-72-75--220 and tied for eighth. Gohn tied for 10th, shooting 74-73-75--222, but she was competing as an individual, so her low scores didn't help Missouri's team finish.

Adkison enjoyed the invitational even without too much success by the Tigers. She said she is grateful that Missouri allows her to be an active participant.

“All I ever did was be her daughter,” Adkison said, while holding back tears. “She’s the special one. I just stand in for her since she’s gone.”

Adkison also talked about the wonderful job that the Tigers and Old Hawthorne do to host the tournament. She says the Birdies For A Cure is a wonderful cause and she will continue to support the invitational in the future.

“I will be here every year, sitting right there,” Adkison said, pointing to the seat her mother sat in one year ago, “watching the girls come up on 18.”

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