The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Of all the promising young golfers I’ve observed in Southeast Texas over a period going on five decades, perhaps the most intriguing is Michael Arnaud.
A talented but inconsistent player in high school at West Orange-Stark, Arnaud was reared by his grandparents and didn’t reap the benefit of playing college golf. He’s stayed involved in the game by competing on mini-tours, occasionally playing his way into Nationwide Tour events and came oh-so-close to making it to the final stage of PGA Tour School two years ago.
Michael has had a degree of success on the winter portion of the Adams Pro Golf Tour series, winning four times. But, until last weekend in Baton Rouge, he’d never been able to hoist a championship trophy during one of the regular-season events.
One week after a third-round 76 caused him to come up a stroke shy at the National Golf Club of Louisiana, Arnaud broke through in impressive fashion with rounds of 68-66-66-69. His 72-hole total of 269 was 19-under par and enabled him to win the Mary Bird Perkins Merrill Lynch Open at the Santa Maria Golf Club by a resounding six shots over Zach Fisher.
“It finally gives me some validation and got a big monkey off my back,” said Arnaud. “Having a big lead going into the last round really helped. Being six shots ahead, I knew if I just kept playing solid, and put up anything under par, that nobody would be able to catch me.”
The cousin of MLS soccer star Davy Arnaud attributes getting into the winner’s circle at long last to improving his game from 100 yards in, and to “just being able to get out of my own way.”
“I’ve tried to push it a little too much in the past. With my skill set I don’t need to do that,” said Arnaud, who is extremely long off the tee. “I’ve learned some things the hard way and figured out how important the mental side of the game is. I’m optimistic about the future.”
Arnaud, a player for whom the costs involved in trying to get established in professional golf has always been somewhat of an issue, picked up a winner’s check of $10,500. He’s now No. 2 on the Adams Tour money list at $18,346, after finishing sixth, second and first in four 2012 starts.”
As for having only a very limited background in college golf, Arnaud says he no longer sees that as a problem.
“Missing a lot of the competition in college golf was a setback for a while, but I’ve overcome that,” he said. “I’m several years removed from college and I have plenty of experience now. That’s just not an excuse for me. I’m convinced I have the game to get to the next level.”
Arnaud’s next opportunity on the Adams Golf Pro Tour Series comes May 23-26 at the Bay Oaks Open at Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston. Prior to that, he’s headed to Liberty to play in the professional division of a tournament at Liberty Country Club. In early June, he plans to go to Memphis to try to Monday qualify his way into the PGA Tour’s Fed Ex St. Jude Classic.
Such is the life for a mini-tour player who often has to pick and choose his spots, depending on the costs involved. For now, Arnaud is chasing the same dream a guy named Bubba Watson once chased on the Adams Tour.
As Watson proved, those dreams can come true. Sometimes sooner. Sometimes later. Don’t be shocked, then, if Michael eventually makes it to the PGA Tour. What happened last week in Baton Rouge could well be the catalyst.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at email@example.com.