, Port Arthur, Texas

September 10, 2013

West golf notepad: Stroud's good year can become great

Bob West
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — No matter how things play out in the BMW Championship this week in Chicago, 2013 been a very good year for Chris Stroud.

He tied for first before losing in a playoff at the Travelers Championship. He’s had four top 10s and collected a career best $1,582,869 in official money. He made 17 of 24 cuts. He reached an all-time high of No. 105 in the World Golf Rankings and currently stands at a best ever 39th in Fed Ex Cup points.

Yes, indeed, in so many ways Southeast Texas’ favorite PGA player has had a truly memorable year. A strong performance in Chicago, however, and it goes from good to great because so many doors would be unlocked for him.

Stroud, by moving into the top 30 this week, gives himself a shot at the pot of gold awaiting at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. Beyond that, climbing into the top 30 qualifies him for a coveted Masters invitation, as well as putting him in the  U.S. Open, British Open and PGA. There are numerous other perks.

Near as can be determined, the former Lamar All-America will need to finish at least 15th in the BMW to climb into the top 30 in Fed Ex points. A 10th place finish would elevate him to 21st, a 5th would get him to 18th and, should he break through with that first victory, he’d climb all the way to 4th.

Underscoring the importance of what’s on the line for him, Stroud has been in Chicago since Sunday night in order to get maximum exposure to a Tom Fazio-designed Conway Farms course that has never hosted a PGA Tour event. Conway Farms is a blank slate to nearly the entire 70-player field. A notable exception is Luke Donald, who is a member there.

Stroud is rested from a week off and will have the benefit of Lamar University golf coach Brian White being on site to work with him. For the most part, he got positive feedback from finishing T33 and T35 in the first two Fed Ex Cup events. He apparently has no major swing issues, although accuracy off the tee has been a costly problem from time to time.

One of the really interesting things about Chris’ 2013 season is the fact he’s outperformed his statistics. He’s a lowly No. 71 in driving accuracy, a troubling No. 111 in greens in regulation percentage (GIR) and a distant No. 167 in driving distance. Normally those numbers wouldn’t track to somebody being No. 39 in Fed Ex points with two weeks left in the season.

Stroud, though, has overcome and persevered primarily because of two key stats — strokes gained putting and scrambling. He’s No. 29 in the former and a sparkling No. 2 in the latter. His uncanny ability to get up and down has saved many a round, enabled him to make several cuts he’d have missed and put him in position to move up to the next level.

To be 39th in Fed Ex points with two tournaments left speaks volumes about how far Stroud’s ability to score has come in the past two or three years. Hopefully, he’ll be able to turn up the volume to a deafening level over four rounds in Chicago.

CHIP SHOTS: Jim Jordan of Nederland scored his third hole in one last week when he sank a pitching wedge on the 130-yard, 7th hole at Babe Zaharias. Witnesses were Bill Fears, Paul Bourgeois and Gene Noble . . . Karlei Hemler, the rising freshman star at PN-G, won the Mizuno/USSSA Junior Golf Back to School tournament in Marksville, La. Hemler posted a 36-hole score of 166 over Tomahka Trails GC and won by 15 shots over Mattison McCain . . . The team of Gary Whitfill, Cole Lee, Charlie Huckaby and Richard Sibley finished with 16 points to win the Babe Zaharias DogFight. Second with 14 points was the foursome of Don MacNeil Butch Landry, Bill Fears and Paul Brown. Closest to the pin winners were Tom Lawton (No. 2), Lee (No. 7, No. 15) and Jim Jordan (No. 12) . . . The Senior Game at The Babe was played in a 4-person points format. Placing first at plus 8 was the team of Roland Burris, Roger Baumer, Bob Moore and G. Baumer. Second at plus 4 was the foursome of Rick Pritchett, Jim Cooper, Bill Jones and Steadman Tahaney. Closest to the pin winners were Jones (No. 2, No. 15), Jordan with his hole in one on No. 7 and Ron Theriot (No. 12) . . .The Senior 50 Plus Game at The Babe was played in a 2-ball format. There was a two-way tie on the front between the team of Jim Jordan, B. Letourneau, Dillard Darbonne and John House and the team of Tony Trevino, Cap Hollier, Marc Petry and Gene Noble. The back was won at minus 3 by the team of Don MacNeal, Keith Rochau, Cole Lee and Larry Rogers . . . In last week’s Senior 50 Plus Game, the foursome of Bill Draughon, Adam Noel, Tommy Lemire and Ted Estes won the front in minus 5. On the back, the team of Bill Hammond, David Arnaud, Perry Henderson and  Estes won with minus 3 . . . The Super Saturday Game at The Babe was played in a 2-ball format. Winning the front nine in minus 7 was the team of Tony Trevino, Wes McDonald, Gene Hardy, Gene Noble and Steve Cameron. The team of Bill Hammond, Rick Pritchett, Harry Green and Dan Flood took the back with minus 5 . . . Ed Boone finished plus six to win the Monday Senior Game at Babe Zaharias. Joe Vanderweg and Barry Jackson tied for second at plus 5. Norm Shannon was the closest to the pin winner on No. 15 . The Friday Senior Game at Belle Oaks was rained out . . . Opening event in the First Tee of the Golden Triangle’s Fall Finish tournament series for juniors is set for Sept. 21 at Babe Zaharias. Other tourneys are scheduled for Oct. 12 at Idylwild Golf Club, Nov. 16 at Belle Oaks and Dec. 14 at Bayou Din. The tournaments are open to all junior golfers between the ages of 7 and 18. High school graduates are not eligible. Entry deadlines are the Wednesday before each event. The entry fee is $20. Anyone seeking further information should contact Jerry Honza at 543-6364 or e-mail

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