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Southeast Texas golfers represent area impressively

By Bob West
The News Golf Columnist

What a terrific week it was for golfers with Southeast Texas ties. Indeed, more players may have collectively authored more noteworthy feats in more places than has ever been the case.
From Chris Stroud on the PGA Tour in Hartford, Conn., to Dawie van der Walt, Michael Arnaud and Andrew Landry on the Web.com Tour in Wichita, to Baylor-bound PN-G ex Braden Bailey in the Greystone Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., to PN-G sophomore Karlei Hemler in the First Tee National Par 3 Championship in Richmond, Va., there were plenty of highlights.
We’ll start with Stroud, since he plays at the highest level.
Desperately needing a strong showing after what’s been a disappointing year, he delivered a T10 that was worth $147,200 in the Travelers Championship. That jumped him from 130 to 116 on the Fed Ex Points list.
Unfortunately, his highest finish of the season came with a bittersweet taste.
Wayward tee shots that led to bogeys on the final two holes cost Stroud one of four spots up for grabs in the British Open, as well as over $80,000. It was almost a repeat of Saturday when Chris was sailing along in second place, only to make consecutive bogeys on 14, 15 and 16. Two of the bogeys came after tee shots landed in water hazards.
Stroud plans to play in this week’s Greenbrier Classic and the John Deer Championship next week in Iowa that leads into the British Open. He can still secure a berth at St. Andrews with a high-enough finish either week, but it will probably take a top five.
Although LU ex Van der Walt led the area contingent in the Web.com Tour with a T6, it was West Orange’s Arnaud who was the big story. Arnaud, a week after he’d collected $3,000 for winning the Silsbee Invitational, finished T9 in Wichita with rounds 71-68-66-67 (271) and picked up his biggest ever professional check of $15,000.
Despite not having full playing status on the Web.com, Arnaud is now up to 106 on the money list and, all of a sudden, has a puncher’s chance at getting to its Tour Championship and earning a PGA Tour card. With Michael, who has always been a terrific talent, it appears he’s finally playing with confidence.
Van der Walt, meanwhile, won $20,100 after rounds of 64-67-70-70 (271) and moved past PN-G ex Landry on the money list. He’s up to 11th with $160,664.72 in official earnings. Landry, with a T42 (66-69-71-71-277), dropped from 10th to 12th at $152,974.79.
Both Van der Walt and Landry appear to be locks to wind up in the Web.com’s final top 25 and earn a PGA Tour card. Next stop is Thursday in Nova Scotia. After that, it’s Boise, Idaho, Hayward, Calif., Lehi, Utah, Overland Park, Kansas and Springfield, Mo.
On the amateur level, Bailey competed in the strongest field he’d ever been up against for a second consecutive tournament. Once again, he made an impressive showing. After a T8 two weeks ago in the AJGA Footjoy Invitational in Greensboro, N.C., he followed with a T9 against a Greystone Invitational lineup featuring college players and amateurs from 22 states and eight foreign countries.
Braden carded rounds of 69-74-70-76 for a one-over-par 289. Vanderbilt’s William Gordon ran away from the 144-player field with a 13-under 275. Tied for second at 282 were Australian Anthony Quayle and University of Alabama senior Robby Prater.
Last, but certainly not least, was how well Hemler performed in the First Tee event in Virginia. Arguably the top young female talent to ever come out of Southeast Texas, she placed fifth out of 16 girls from across the United States in the 36-hole individual competition, played for the winning West team in a Ryder Cup-style format and helped her Junior Am team to second place finish among 18 teams.
Hemler won her individual match in Ryder Cup, 4&3, but lost in team best-ball. A week earlier she won a 9-hole event for girls 15-18 at an Oklahoma State golf camp in Stillwater.
From what I’ve seen, this young lady looks like the real deal. She mainly needs experience playing the type golf courses juniors are not exposed to in Southeast Texas
CHIP SHOTS: Arnaud, as mentioned above, was the winner in the Pro/Championship Flight of the 48th annual Silsbee Invitational. His 54-hole total of 205 (64-69-72) clipped Tye Grissom by two strokes. Joran “Red Dog” Meeks was third at 211, with LU ex M.J. Daffue and Braeden Riley rounding out the top five at 212. Tanner Lowe shot 221 (70-73-78) to win the Presidential Flight by two strokes over David Jones. Winners in the match-play flights were Kenny Simmons (2nd), Spencer Shelburn (3rd), Johnny Page (4th), Todd Paine (5th), Matt Johnson (6th), Sal Buerrero (7th) and Dennis Marks (8th). Area amateurs will be headed to Wildwood this weekend for the Old Glory Invitational . . . Congratulations for Butch Strange of Port Neches for pulling off a feat to which all many players aspire and few achieve. Strange, with a 75 at Bayou Din, was two strokes under his age. Witnesses were Mark Lee, Hootie Gibson, Randy Hefler and Kirk Sherer . . . There was a three-way tie for first at 16 points in the Babe Zaharias DogFight. One of the winning teams included Cap Hollier, Mark Petry, Paul Duplantis and Ron Overstreet. Another was composed of Buddy Sepeda, Bob Byerly, Malcolm Tiller and David Sturgal. The third team was made up of Don MacNeil, Pete Reobroi and Art Miller, with Hollier as a ghost. Closest to the pin winners were Gary Anderson (No. 2), John House (No. 7), Rick Pritchett (No. 12) and Sturgal (No. 15) . . . The Senior Game at The Babe was played in a 2-person, 9/9 best ball/scramble format. The duo of Pritchett-Craig Fontenot won First Flight was a 64, Second Flight went to the 67 authored by Harry Green-Larry Foster and Third Flight was taken by Bill Jones-Larry Rogers with a 74. Closest to the pin winners were Harrell Guidry (No. 2), Fontenot (No. 7, No. 12) and Charles Leard (No. 15) . . . The Senior 50 Plus Game at The Babe was played in a two best ball format. On the front, there was a three-way tie at minus 6 between teams captained by P.Y. Young, Benny Sharpe and Roddy Weatherly. On the back, the team of Adam Noel, Bob Byerly, Wes McGuire and M. Hollier won with minus 4 . . . The Beltway Junior Tour’s event scheduled for Monday at Sunset Groves has been canceled and the tour has moved its Wildwood tourney up to Wednesday, July 8.
Golf news should be faxed to 724-6854 or e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net.

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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