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Don Thames and friends

It seemed as if the whole Rancho Murieta Country Club headed to the club Wednesday evening to celebrate Don Thames as he goes off to compete in the U.S. Senior Open next week in Colorado. It's been his lifelong dream to play a major tournament, Thames told the cheering crowd of at least 200.

Speech

After being introduced by club President Vince Lepera, Thames regaled the crowd with stories about golf and his wife Carole's role as his caddy and better half. "Not once in 21 years of marriage has Carole complained about my golf," he joked. "More like a thousand times." Thames said there were three reasons he moved to Rancho Murieta -- "golf, golf and golf"-- but he's come to appreciate the community's other attributes. He thanked the club, in-laws Bill and Pat Lytle and the crowd for their support and said he planned to emphasize "the three C's -- calm, confidence and courage" in Colorado.  The Men's Club named Thames an honorary lifetime member, the first such membership in club history. Here's the story of how he qualified for the Open.

Carole, Don and Katie

After his remarks, he posed for photos with Carole and their daughter Katie. A raffle raised over $1,700 for the Thames' expenses.

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