, Port Arthur, Texas


April 30, 2014

PN-G's Braden Bailey picks Baylor

GROVES — After more than a year of intense attention from college golf coaches across the country, Port Neches-Groves’ junior star Braden Bailey announced Wednesday that he plans to attend Baylor.

    “I just felt Baylor was the right fit for me,” said Bailey, less than 24 hours after tying for 6th in the Texas 4A state tournament in Austin. “It’s a great school academically, a lot of really good things are happening there, they are building some nice facilities, Waco’s going to be a good place to be and I think Coach (Greg) Priest can help make me a better player.”

    Bailey’s verbal commitment ends a football-like recruiting saga that saw him arguably get more college attention than any golfer to attend a Southeast Texas high school. Some 30 schools, including the likes of UCLA, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame and Arkansas were in contact with Bailey, but the final decision came down to the Lone Star State trio of Lamar, North Texas and Baylor.

    Former PN-G and Lamar great Chris Stroud, and Cardinal coach Brian White, came after Bailey hard, but it had become apparent to them that Baylor was in the driver’s seat. Bailey said one of the toughest things for him to do will be to call Stroud and let him know that he selected Baylor.

    “It’s going to be difficult after all Chris did for me,” he said. “I took everything he told me to heart, but in the end I just felt Baylor was the right fit for me. I’m sure he will understand.”

    Bailey has been building quite a resume the past three years. He’s the three-time District 20-4A champion, has a T7 and a T6 in the last two 4A state tournaments, placed second by a stroke in the Region III, 4A tourney and is about to be named to the 4A All-State team for the second time.

    Beyond the high school level, his most impressive accomplishment was winning the Legends Junior Tour’s Texas Cup Invitational last fall in Fort Worth against a 78-man field that included top players from eight states and seven foreign countries. He put together back-to-back rounds of one-under-par 70 at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth.

    He’s also had a pair of top 5 finishes in prestigious American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) events. One of his best AJGA showings was a T6 over Arizona State University’s Karsten Course last summer, after rounds of 73-70-67. His closing 67 was the low score of the day in a field of 57 players, and ratcheted up the attention he was getting from college coaches.

    Also high on Bailey’s list of accomplishments was a T8 in the 2012 Champions Tour Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Playing with Champions Tour pro Dick Mast, Bailey shot rounds of 79 at Pebble Beach, 71 at Del Monte Country Club and a closing 74 at Pebble Beach, helping Mast to best-ball scores of 68-65-68.

    Both Mast and professional caddy Craig Johnson were blown away by the poise and shot-making they saw out of a kid who was still over a month from starting his sophomore year of high school.

    “I’m almost at a loss for words,” said Johnson, who had spent the previous nine years caddying in Pebble Beach events. “Braden is an unbelievable young man. He has so much charisma, is so very polite and is a remarkable player for somebody 15-years-old. He’s definitely something special. The golf world needs to keep an eye on him.”

    Bailey said a huge load has been taken off his shoulders with the Baylor announcement.

    “The process was much more overwhelming than I expected,” he said. “This takes a lot of pressure off and will be one less thing for me to worry about. I know I’ll be a lot more relaxed this summer, not having to try to impress college coaches. I can just concentrate on my game and getting better.

    “My game is in decent shape at this point. My short game is really strong, but I need to work on the  long game. My goals now are to win an AJGA tournament, to  help our team get back to state next year and to win the 4A individual championship.”

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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.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • 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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    First things first, give Clint Landry and the rest of the officials credit for making the Southwest Regional Babe Ruth tournament possible this weekend at Nederland High School.

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    There are certain limitations to fishing without a boat.

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    Thursday nights Summer Money League produced some very impressive scores.

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    The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.

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From the Fieldhouse blog