Champions Tour members paid a heartfelt goodbye to pastor Tom Randall and his wife Karen during a special dinner Monday night at Lottinvilles Wood Grill in Edmond.
Randall has served as a pastor, caddie, friend and counselor to numerous Champions Tour members for most of the past 10 years. He moved from Edmond recently and is now pastor at Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, Ohio.
The dinner was organized by retired Oak Tree National professional Doug Tewell and his wife Pam. Among the Champions Tour players who paid tribute to Randall were Fred Funk, David Frost, Brad Bryant and Bernhard Langer. Many others were in attendance.
Langer referred to Randall’s recent decision to return to the Philippines even though he knew he was likely to be arrested on trumped-up charges from a rival missionary of sex trafficking. Randall went, spent 22 days in prison, was eventually cleared of all charges and released in early February. After overcoming a serious illness early in his prison stay, he wound up converting half of his cell block to Christianity.
"He could have taken the easy way out," Langer said. "He stands by his convictions and that’s an example to all of us."
Langer, who has overcome his own share of injuries, also spoke admiringly of the time Randall continued a bike trek across the U.S. even though he had fallen and broken two ribs.
Randall was serious while discussing how his faith pulled him through in the Philippines, but had the crowd rolling earlier in his talk with humorous anecdotes about his caddying efforts on tour for players such as Dana Quigley and George Archer.
The dinner was paid for by the Champions Tour with the wine donated by Frost, the South African who has his own line of fine wines. Champions Tour President Mike Stevens joked that Randall’s successor Larry Moody of Baltimore would have a hard time, saying fines and suspensions were up dramatically this year in Randall’s absence and "we’ve got players spitting on the greens." At which point Moody yelled "I resign."
Tewell said organizing the dinner was the least he could do for a man who has been a constant source of inspiration to he and many of his friends. He expects Randall will continue to try to support his orphanage and missionary work in the Philippines despite nearly being arrested the first time he was there for not paying bribes and then being falsely accused and tossed in prison this year.
"I would put every shred of my reputation on Tom Randall," Tewell said. "We are so fortunate that he didn’t die over there. And can you imagine being accused of those things when all you’ve ever tried to do is raise money to help those displaced children.
"I was very happy we were able to do that for Tom. The evening turned out great. He’s done so much for so many of us."