, Port Arthur, Texas


November 19, 2013

West column: Stroud makes most of new PGA Tour concept

PORT ARTHUR — s soon as Chris Stroud can determine exactly whose brainstorm was responsible for the new wraparound PGA Tour schedule, there will be a name added to his Christmas shopping list.

    Stroud, along with a handful of other players on the rise — Jimmy Walker, Ryan Moore, Chris Kirk and Harris English — is headed into the 2014 portion of the season with security and scheduling flexibility he’s never enjoyed before. Consequently, he’s going to be able to pick and choose when and where he plays, and zero in on loftier goals.

    It’s all fallen into place because of Stroud’s stellar play for the second time in four weeks on foreign soil. He slogged his way through daily downpours at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba to rounds of 66-68-66-68, good for a T3 that was worth $312,000. Added to his T3 in late October at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, the PN-G and Lamar ex is now sitting pretty with $718,000 in official money before Thanksgiving turkeys have been defrosted.

    He’s No. 11 on the PGA Tour money list, No. 14 in Fed Ex Cup points and has climbed to an all-time high of No. 78 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Had a 7-foot birdie putt fallen on the 72nd hole, elevating him to T2, the numbers would be even better. But why get greedy?

    “I am so happy with how I played and the position that I’m in,” Stroud said from his home in The Woodlands. “I liked the new schedule concept when it was announced and I like it even better now. I’m also starting to understand more and more how important it is to go to courses where you play well.

    “For some reason, I have played very well at Mayakoba in recent years. To be honest, I really didn’t want to go down there last week. I was aware the forecast called for a lot of rain. But it would have been a bad business decision not to go. It turned out to be a good week all around. I did everything pretty well.”

    Despite missing two of four fall cuts — events he probably won’t play next year — Stroud’s accomplishments are monumental. His two top 3s, for instance, are one more than in his first 192 PGA events. Think about that a minute. Other than the near miss at the Traveler’s Championship in June, when he lost to Ken Duke in sudden death, Chris had never finished higher that fourth.

    Now, in less than a month, he’s twice tied for third. At the CIMB, he was inches away from another sudden death playoff. At the OHL, he narrowly missed a T2. His winnings from the pair of T3s have him  probably within $100,000 of guaranteeing his tour card for 2014-15. Plus, his Fed Ex Cup points and ascending world ranking give him a running start toward moving into the next echelon of players.

    Stroud’s immediate goal, which was not feasible until now, is to climb into the top 64 in the OGWR by mid February. That would get him into the World Match Play championship at Dove Mountain in Arizona. Ultimately, if he can climb into the top 50 in the OGWR, it opens the door to nearly every event out there. Including, he’s pretty sure, the Masters.

    “It’s not wishful thinking. I know I can get there,” he said. “Whitey (Lamar golf coach Brian White) and I both think I’ve still only reached about 75 percent of my potential. I’m really learning how to play the game, how to score and where I can score. Some of my key stats — scrambling and putting — have not been as good as they were earlier but I’ve got two top threes.”

    Stroud’s reward for his impressive start to the 2013-14 season is rest, relaxation and quality family time. He’s won’t tee it up in tournament play again until the Jan. 9-12 Sony Classic in Honolulu. He’ll then skip two California tournaments before playing the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Jan. 30-Feb. 2. Pebble Beach the following week is iffy and he’ll probably skip Riviera on Feb. 13-16.

    “I just haven’t played well in the West Coast tournaments,” he said, “so I’m going to skip them. I’ve got a good handle on what I need to do, as far as playing. Whitey and I and the rest of my team will sit down in the next few weeks and talk about the plan and if it needs to be adjusted. But, as I’ve said before, I want to cut back on the number of tournaments and work hard on my game in between.

    “Why go to a tournament where I’ve historically not done well? Even Tiger Woods is selective that way. He plays courses where he’s confident because of the success he’s had on those courses. It’s the smart thing to do. Especially, when you are not having to sweat keeping your tour card.”

    Meanwhile, Stroud will be getting busy  finding out whose name he needs to add to the Christmas list. And making sure his passport doesn’t get lost.

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at






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  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
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    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

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From the Fieldhouse blog