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BOB WEST ON GOLF: Spectators to be allowed at Houston Open

With World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, two-time U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka, and former World No. 1 Jason Day heading up a strong field, the 73rd Houston Open will be breaking noteworthy new ground in a couple of weeks.

The Nov. 5-8 event features a new course in Memorial Park, a new sponsor — Vivint Smart Home, Inc. — and a novel new concept for 2020 — a live gallery. It will be the first tournament in the United States with fans in attendance since COVID 19 shut down the PGA Tour in March.

Slotted the week ahead of the Masters, the Houston Open, will offer a first look at Memorial Park since its two-year, $34 million makeover. The makeover and the tournament’s very existence can be traced to the heavy involvement of Astros owner Jim Crane and the Astros golf foundation.

Through an agreement worked out between the PGA Tour and Dr. David Perse, the Chief Medical Officer of the City of Houston, 2,000 fans will be allowed to attend the tournament each day. Tickets went on sale today on the tournament website — HoustonOpenGolf.com

Cost is $79 for Thursday, Nov. 5, and $109 for each of the next three days. Included with each ticket will be food and beverages from designated on-course venues. Alcohol is not included. Everyone on the grounds will be required to wear a mask at all times. Only exceptions are when eating and drinking.

PNG exes Chris Stroud and Andrew Landry are both expected to be in the 132-player field.

CHIP SHOTS

Landry is part of a select 78-player field for this week’s Zozo Championship being played at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. The tournament was moved to the United States from Japan due to COVID 19 concerns.

Landry is coming off a 61st-place tie last week in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek. After a strong 71-69 start, Landry faltered on the weekend with rounds of 74-77. He pocketed $18,720. …

Terry Dunahoe, a retired member of the PAPD, shot his age for the first time ever last Tuesday at Babe Zaharias. Dunahoe fired a three-under-par 69. The round was witnessed by Ronnie Plessala.

One of the best local golf stories of 2020 was the success of the Fourth Annual Tee Off For the YMCA Fundraiser played last Friday at Babe Zaharias. With COVID-19 concerns diluting and sometimes forcing tournament cancellations, the YMCA event opted to go forward and ended up netting $55,646.44.

A total of 26 teams participated in the tourney, with the foursome of Dustin Loden, Taylor Sims, Ruston Kennedy and Chance Lemoine winning with a 57. Closest to the pin winners were Chris Forster (No. 2, No. 7), Cricket Owen (No. 12) and David Guarnere (No. 15). Mike Herod claimed the long drive prize.

Big news in the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2-ball at Zaharias was a personal string of six consecutive birdies by Joe Gongora of Port Arthur. Gongora used the birdie run to shoot 70 and help a team that included Dwayne Morvant, Rick Pritchett and Bobby Kimball to a back-nine tie at minus-3.

Also shooting minus-3 on the back, after winning the front with minus 4, was the foursome of Craig Geoffroy, Bobby Wactor, Larry Johnson and Art Turner.

The team of James Shipley, Don MacNeil, Pritchett and Dixon Conn posted minus-3 to win the front in the Super Saturday 2-ball at Zaharias. Minus-3 was also the winning score on the back for the team of Adam Noel, Earl Richard, Thad Borne and Everest Baker.

All points count was the format for the Wednesday Babe Zaharias DogFight. Placing first with 29 points was the team of James Vercher, Morvant, Keith Marshall and Dwayne Benoit. Second with 25 points was the foursome of Gary Hanan, Ron Mistrot, Pritchett and Larry Foster. …

Closest to the pin winners were Morvant (No. 2, 5 feet, 2 inches), Robert Stansbury (No. 7, 14-2), Richard (No. 12, 14-8) and Kenny Robbins (No. 15, 3-2), Morvant was the day’s medalist with a 73.

Henry Shavlan shot an 81 Sunday to win Boys 15-18 in the PGA Junior Tour tournament at Babe Zaharias. Other flight winners included Tyler Davis (89 in Boys 13-14), Brent Mauer (83 in Boys 11-12), Hannah Newell (82 in Girls 15-18), Mattie Purgahn (83 in Girls 13-14) and London Fowlkes (77 in Girls 11-12). …

Callaway Golf is hosting a tour-style fitting event from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday on the practice tee at Babe Zaharias. Anyone interested in signing up can do so by accessing www.callawaygolf.com and going to TourFitExperienceSignup. For more information call the Zaharias golf shop at 409-722-8286.

Golf news should be emailed to rdwest@usa.net.