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WEST COLUMN: Chris Stroud, Astros owner hanging out in Scotland

Chris Stroud’s friendship with Houston Astros owner Jim Crane led to a
unique opportunity this week to jump start his game for the 2016 PGA Tour
season which launches Oct. 8 with the Fry’s.com Open. Crane, a scratch player
who recently sold his mansion at Pebble Beach, got Stroud invited to play in
the prestigious Alfred Dunhill Links Championship as his parter.
The Dunhill, one of the crown jewels of the European PGA Tour, is the
overseas version of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. It pairs pros
with high profile amateurs from around the world in an event played over three
of Scottland’s premier courses — Kingsbarns, Carnoustie and St. Andrews.
While the pros play for a $5 million purse, amateurs strive to make the
54-hole pro-am cut and advance to play a closing round on Sunday at St.
Andrews. Americans besides Stroud, in a field loaded with top European
players, include Stewart Cink, Brooks Kopeka, John Daly, Sean O’Hair and Erik
Compton.
Crane has enough stroke that he was granted a request for Stroud to be
extended an invitation to participate as his partner. Making the deal even
sweeter for Chris is that he didn’t have to deal with the expense and nuisance
of flying commercial.
The PN-G ex and former Lamar golf coach Brian White, who is going along to
caddie for Stroud, flew to Scotland on Monday with the Astros owner on his
private jet. For those who aren’t aware of Crane’s zest for golf, the man owns
the plush, ultra private Floridian Golf Club where he hosted a round with
Tiger Woods and President Obama in 2013.
If you are interested in watching the Dunhill, the Golf Channel is
televising Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Sunday
from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Crane, no doubt, has arranged a setup where he’ll
be able to watch the Astros battle for a wild card when he’s not on the golf
course.
CHIP SHOTS: PN-G junior Karlei Hemler didn’t survive the Champions Tour
Nature Valley First Tee Open 36-hole cut with her professional partner, Tommy
Armour III. But the good news including playing some solid golf, receiving two
offers from professional caddies to consider them if she makes it to the LPGA
Tour and coming home with lifetime memories. The Armour/Hemler team shot best
ball 72 at Pebble Beach and 71 at Poppy Hills. Their 143 total missed the cut
by five shots. On her own ball, Hemler shot an impressive 78 at Pebble Beach
and 77 at Poppy Hills. With a 5.1 handicap, her scores converted to 73 and 72
for pro-am purposes. Armour finished T23 among Champions Tour Pros with rounds
of 73-71-71 for 215 and had glowing words for Hemler and her future in golf.
Those words will be passed along in a future column. . . . Lamar ex Dawie van
der Walt has fared best among players with area ties in the Web.com Tour
playoffs. Van der Walt finished T5 last weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and has
moved up to No. 2 overall for combined regular season and playoff earnings at
$365,609. What that means is Van der Walt will start the season right at the
top of the PGA Tour priority list among new card winners. PN-G ex Andrew
Landry, meanwhile, finished the regular season No. 22 out of 25 card winners
and remains at No. 22 through three playoff events. On the other side of the
Web.com playoffs, West Orange-Stark ex Michael Arnaud stands No. 63 in
earnings for the post season. He’d probably need a top five in this week’s
concluding tournament at Jacksonville to get into the final top 25 and earn a
PGA Tour card. Arnaud, however, is guaranteed full status on the Web.com Tour
. . . There was a two-way tie for first in the Babe Zaharias DogFight. The
team of David Evans, Brian Guidry, Aron Davis and Allen Suire finished with 18
points, as did the foursome of Rick Pritchett, Mark Petry, Jim Cooper and
Lovell Sullivan. Closest to the pin winners were Petry (No. 2), Jim Jordan
(No. 7), Guidry (No. 12) and Joe Gongora (No. 15) . . . The Senior Game at The
Babe was played in a select drve, all points count format, with the team of
Jim Jordan, Dillard Darbonne, Ron Overstreet and Dan Flood winning with 30
points. Second with 28 points was the foursome of Dwayne Morvant, Rodney
Christman, Mark Petry and Paul Duplantis. Closest to the pin winners wee Cap
Hollier (No. 2), Earl Richard (No. 7), Dwayne Morvant (No. 12) and Gongora
(No. 15) . . . The Super Saturday Game at The Babe was played in a 2 ball
format. On the front the team of Richard, Gongora, Cecil Norris and E.T.
Robicheaux won with minus 5. The team of Jordan, Thad Borne, Gene Jones and
Roger Baumer won the back with minus 5 . . . The team of Ronny Burkhalter,
Todd Ross, James Mosley and Kirk Sherer shot a 53, then prevailed in a
scorecard playoff to win the Nederland Westernaires fundraising scramble
played at Brentwood Country Club . . . Entries are still being taken for the
20th annual Joe Williamson Memorial Tournament set for Saturday at Babe
Zaharias. Entry fee for the two-person scramble is $50 per player and includes
all costs, plus food and drinks. Players will be flighted for an 8 a.m.
shotgun start by the low handicap on the team. All proceeds for the event go
toward scholarships at Nederland and Port Neches-Groves. To enter, call
Wendell Meaux at 409 722-8286 or the Zaharias golf shop at 409 722-8286 . . .
Entries are also still being taken for a fundraiser for the Henry and Juel
Homberg Scholarship fund at Lamar University at Idylwild Golf Club. Format is
a four-person shamble. In a shamble, players select the best drive, then play
their own ball the rest of the way. Each team will count its two low balls.
Former PGA Tour star Bruce Lietzke, who had a close relationship with the
Hombergs when Henry was pro at Tyrrell Park, is going to attend the event and
hit a tee shot for every group on the par 3, 6th hole. Entry fee is $400 per
team or $100 per player. Lunch will be served prior to a 1 p.m. shotgun start.
To enter, call Ronnie Pfleider at 409 753-2521.
Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net.