PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

October 15, 2013

West golf column: White invites Sauceda to join LU program

BEAUMONT — As a rule, Lamar University golf coach Brian White doesn’t like to take walk-ons for either his men’s or women’s team. He’s making an exception for Nederland’s Felicia Sauceda.

Sauceda, who is attending LU on its highest academic award — the Mirabeau Presidential Scholarship — never fully realized her potential as a high school golfer primarily because of her versatility. She also excelled in volleyball and soccer, didn’t have the time to work strictly on her golf game and pretty much went unnoticed by college coaches.

White, in fact, didn’t even know who she was until assistant coach Russell Helson called her to his attention one day at Beaumont Country Club.

“Russell saw her on the range — she has a junior membership at BCC —, said she played at Nederland and that I ought to take a look at her,” White said. “I watched her hit some balls, talked to her enough to realize she’s a wonderful young lady and invited her to walk-on.”

White, highly regarded as a teacher at the game’s highest level thanks to his work with Chris Stroud, D.A. Points and other PGA Tour players, has an excellent women’s team at Lamar that has finished first or second in all of its fall tournaments. He would like to think Sauceda could become a part of that team by next season.

“From the little I’ve seen, she has really good potential,” he said. “I have no doubt I can make her a better player. It helps that she’s smart enough to be a Mirabeau scholar. That’s impressive and tells me she has a lot of self discipline. Inviting her to walk-on was an easy choice.”

Sauceda’s opportunity came about as sort of a perfect storm of events. White has to limit his numbers at Lamar because Beaumont Country Cub allows his teams to practice and play there. He doesn’t want to be thought of as abusing a good situation, so he doesn’t load up with players he doesn’t see as being able to help his team.

There are 10 golfers on his men’s team and six on the women’s team.

“We’re just not in position to take on a lot of projects,” he explained. “This opportunity with Felicia probably wouldn’t have developed if she hadn’t been a member at Beaumont Country Club. And it probably wouldn’t have happened if Russell hadn’t see her hitting balls. We don’t practice on the same end of the range as the members, so it was fortunate that he noticed her.

“It also helped that she’s a Mirabeau Scholar. That makes quite a statement about the kind of achiever she is. It’s a no-lose deal for us and a nice opportunity for her.  This could turn into a really good story. Like I said, she has talent. We’ll just see where it goes.”

Sauceda was the District 20-4A girls medalist as a freshman, sophomore and senior. She won last year with rounds of 79-81 at Wildwood, despite limited practice time while being involved in the playoffs in both volleyball and soccer.

White will no doubt be interested to read what Nederland girls golf coach Rob Long had to say about Sauceda after the district tournament in early April.

“I’ve never been around an athlete like her and I don’t think many coaches have,” Long said. “It’s amazing how she shows up, kicks tail and moves on. I’ve been in it for 21 years and have never been around a golfer a good as she is. That she can do so well as a part time player is amazing.”

Stay tuned, then. Sauceda may well have another, more eye-opening chapter to write in an athletic career that at one time had her being compared to Babe Zaharias.

Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at rdwest@usa.net.

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Bob West