The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Aside from the fact he didn’t get that elusive first PGA Tour victory, Chris Stroud couldn’t have been much happier over a tie for 13th in his first start of the season last week at the Sony Open in Honolulu.
Stroud was one of only seven players in the field to post a score in the 60s all four rounds over the tight, tree-lined Waialae Country Club, he was a perfect 8-for-8 when it came to birdies on par 5s, he was within striking distance of the lead entering the final round and he finished 6th in the field by averaging 27.5 putts.
“I’m pleased,” said Stroud. “There is no question the work I did in the off-season really paid off. I don’t feel like I lost a step. Mentally I was right there. If I can give myself a chance like that every week, I’m going to win.”
Because of his goal to get that first PGA victory before he turns 30, Stroud vows to go all out this week at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif. It’s the last tournament he’ll play in his 20s and the former Lamar University All-America is dead set on making it a lifetime memory.
“I can do it if I putt better from five feet and in,” he said. “Although my putting stats were good at the Sony, I missed five times inside five feet. The reason I ranked as high as I did in putting stats is because I made four or five putts from the fringe and I chipped in once. Statistically, I get zero putts on those holes.”
Stroud helped his bottom line considerably by chipping in for birdie on the par 3, 71st hole, then rolling in a 30-footer from the fringe on the par 5, 18th. Had he finished par, par, his earnings would have been $47,575. Instead, he walked away with a check for $97,167 that has him tied for 26th on the money list.
“It’s a great feeling to finish like that and it really gives me momentum going into this week,” Stroud said. “The chip-in on the 17th hole was huge. One of the reasons I feel so good about the week is that Wailalae is a tough, old style, demanding golf course with small greens. Nothing came easy.
“I was three-shots back going into the final round and honestly thought I had a chance. I told my caddy we needed to shoot six under to win. As it turned out, that would have tied for it. But the trade winds came up, they tucked the pins and birdies were hard to come by.”
Stroud was especially pleased with how well he hit his new Taylor Made Burner driver and 3 wood.
“I’m still going to have to tweak the driver a little,” he said. “I’m having a little problem hitting a cut with it and there were a lot of holes there that needed a high fade. Still, I’d give myself a B plus on the driver and an A on the 3 wood. There were a lot of holes where you had to drive with a 3 wood.”
Stroud will be confronted with an entirely different format this week, in a tournament that for 47 years was tied into legendary comedian Bob Hope’s name. It’s now the Humana Challenge and it’s partnered with the William J. Clinton Foundation.
In years past, the Hope was a five-day, 90 hole event, pairing a pro with four amateurs over four courses in the Coachella Valley. The Humana will be contested over 72-holes. Each pro will have one amateur partner and it will be a different amateur each day. Play will be over three courses — La Quinta Country Club, the Jack Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West and the Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA West.
Stroud’s favorite course in the Hope rotation — Silver Rock — is not a part of the Humana event.
Unlike many pros who grumble about being paired with amatuers, Chris always looked forward to it.
“I understand why things have changed,” he said, “but I liked the format. You got to play with some very nice people who were big successes in their chosen profession.”
CHIP SHOTS: Roy Martinez of Nederland fired his best-ever round of 68 from the gold tees at Babe Zaharias. In addition to being four-under-par, the 73-year-old Martinez was five shots below his age. His playing companions were Jim Jordan, Stedman Tahaney and Dan Flood . . . The Babe Zaharias DogFight was won at 17&3 by the team of Gerald Huebel, Adam Noel, Bill Draughon and Jim Thompson. Placing second at 15&2 was the foursome of Craig Fontenot, Roland Burris, Harrel Guidry and Doug Weeks. Closest to the pin winners were Harry Green (No. 2), Rick Pritchett (No. 7), David Arnaud (No. 12) and Darrel Dugas (No. 15) . . . Joe Vanderweg finished plus 5 to win the Monday Seniors at Belle Oaks. Barry Jackson and Mike Hebert tied for second at plus 1. Twyman Ash (No. 8) and Vanderweg (No. 15) were closest to the pin winners . . . In the Friday Seniors at Belle Oaks, Jim Brown and Jim Robinson tied for first at plus 1. Ralph Childress and Bill Worsham tied for third at minus 1. Robinson was the closest to the pin winner on both No. 8 and No. 12 . . . In the Super Saturday Game at Babe Zaharias, played in a 2 ball format, the fivesome of Rick Pritchett, Thad Borner, Harry Green, Robert Lynch and Harold Wilkinson won the front in minus 4. The back was won in minus 1 by the team of Cody Metts, Harrell Guidry, Art Lecoq and Dan Flood . . . First event on annual Junior Winter Tour, being co-sponsored by the Southeast Texas PGA and The First Tee of the Golden Triangle, is set for Saturday at Bayou Din. Juniors who haven’t already signed up can do so by going to www.southeasttexasjuniortour.com . . . Entries are being taken for the Babe Zaharias Four Ball set for Feb. 11 and 12. Format is a two-man best ball on Saturday and a two-man scramble on Sunday. Entry fee is $30 plus cart and greens fee. Food (gumbo and crawish etoufee) and drinks will be provided each day. Team will be flighted off the low handicap. Tee times will be determined by the number of entries . . . Don’t forget, if you are the chairman of a fund-raising tournament anywhere in Southeast Texas, be sure to call Ed Campbell at 722-8286 to get your event on the area tournament calendar to be published in the Port Arthur News in mid February . . . Entries are still being taken for favorite golf movie. E-mail you choice to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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