Eric Monti Tour winner and teacher to stars dies

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LOS ANGELES ' Eric Monti, who helped shape the golf swings of some of Hollywoods biggest stars and won three PGA Tour events, has died. He was 91.
 
Monti died at his home in Laguna Woods, Calif., on Feb. 1 after a battle with prostate cancer, his son-in-law, Tony Benach, told the Los Angeles Times.
 
As the longtime pro at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, Monti gave lessons to Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Burt Lancaster, Dinah Shore and Jack Benny, on whose television show Monti appeared in a golf-themed episode.
 
Monti began playing on the PGA Tour in the late 1940s and won tournaments in Miami in 1955, Hesperia, Calif., in 1959 and Ontario, Canada, in 1961.
 
He twice came close to winning the Los Angeles Open, including when he lost a four-stroke lead in 1960 and wound up in a three-way tie for seventh.
 
Monti believed in keeping the game simple for his glitzy clientele.
 
You can get too involved in technicalities, he told the Times in 1989. If you get people thinking about too many things, youll destroy them. I tell my assistants to stay with simple, fundamental things.
 
He said Lancaster was among the best of his famous students and a fine athlete.
 
After a few years, he shot a 72 at Bel Air, Monti said. In fact, he got a two on our par-four 11th hole that is listed at 424 yards but plays about 464 yards. Nobody else had ever done it.
 
Born in 1917 in Pekin, Ill., Monti was one of six golfing brothers, and started caddying at age 6. He moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1940s and worked at Hillcrest for 45 years before retiring in 1990.