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WEST ON GOLF: Lietzke never forgets Southeast Texas roots

Bruce Lietzke, who is far and away the most successful professional golfer to come out of Southeast Texas, was back in the area Monday to host the Henry and Juel Homberg Lamar University Endowed Scholarship fundraiser at Idylwild Golf Club.

Henry Homberg, for those who didn’t have the pleasure of getting to know him, was the long-time head pro at the Beaumont golf course that used to be known as Tyrrell Park and now bears his name. He was an important mentor to Lietzke, a champion for junior golf before it became fashionable to work with kid golers and a true and loyal friend of Lamar’s golf program.

As Lietzke told those participating in Monday’s event, Homberg would always find ways for him to play, even when he didn’t have the $1.50 greens fee back in the early 1960s. Bruce has never forgotten what Homberg meant to him and to junior golf, and continues to show his appreciation.

He’s directly involved in a junior tournament every summer at Idylwild that bears his name, coming down from his ranch south of Dallas to be hands on with the kids. When funds for the Homberg scholarship at Lamar needed a boost, he was quick to help Idylwild pro and former Homberg assistant Ronnie Pfleider promote a golf tournament.

“Mr. and Mrs. Homberg were special people in my life,” he said. “I will never forget what they meant to me. I will always be there for something like this that keeps their memory alive and helps the women’s golf program at Lamar.”

Though his career on the Champions Tour ended prematurely because of a shoulder injury, Lietzke’s career numbers are formidable. He won 13 times on the PGA Tour, including twice in the Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas and twice at the Colonial in Fort Worth.

There were also seven wins on the Champions Tour, with the most significant being the 2003 U.S. Senior Open played in Chicago. He never won a major on the PGA Tour, but did finish second in the PGA Championship, twice placed sixth in the Masters and tied for sixth in the British Open.

Among other things, he was the absolute best interview subject out of all the professional athletes and coaches I encountered in nearly 50 years as a sports writer. Whether the question was about his game, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus or anything involving golf, the answers were detailed, offered wonderful insight and frequently contained humorous anecdotes.

Southeast Texas was very, very fortunate to have had somebody like Bruce as its face of professional golf for so many years.

CHIP SHOTS

Erick Tallant of Port Neches got to celebrate his first hole in one Friday at Babe Zaharias. Tallant used a 6-iron from 145 yards on the 15th hole. Bubba Morgan and Danny Roccaforte witnessed Tallant’s ace. …

Dennis Walsh, who used to love to go head-to-head with Lietzke in his younger days, was the captain of the winning Championship Flight team, in the above-mentioned Homberg Scholarship fundraiser. The foursome of Walsh, Rod Conerly, Tory Lindtveit and Sydney Merunka shot 21 under in a shamble format.

In First Flight, Roddy Weatherly, Charles Cooksey, Richard Scully and Craig Fontenot prevailed with minus-4. Closest to the pin winners were Rob Lietzke (No. 4), Burt Darden (No. 6), Dick Gillette (No. 14) and Lindtveit (No. 16).

Long drive winners were Lindtveit (No. 3 and Conerly (No. 11). …

Chris Stroud launches his 2015-2016 PGA Tour season Thursday in the Frys.com Championship in Napa, California, on the high of a tie for second in last week’s European PGA Tour Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

Stroud pocketed his second largest check as professional — $416,900 — and got a tremendous confidence boost for the new PGA season. His thoughts on what went wrong last year, what he’s done to get ready for the new season and what happened in Scotland will be presented in a column in Thursday’s Port Arthur News. …

PN-G ex Braden Bailey closed with an even par 70 Tuesday in Alabama’s Jerry Pate Invitational at Old Overton Golf Club in Birmingham to finish tied for 33rd overall in a field of 60 players.

Bailey’s 54-hole total of 216 was second low on a Baylor team that placed eighth among 12 teams. Alabama and Florida finished 1-2. …

The Krautz team of Mike and Johnnie carded a 63 in a two-man scramble format to win First Flight in the Joe Williamson Memorial tournament at Babe Zaharias. Chris Oliver-Shane Trahan finished one stroke back at 64.

In Second Flight, Regan Meaux-Craig DeLord won with 66, finishing two shots clear of Frank LeBlanc-Avery LeBlanc. Third Flight went to George Roams-Stuart Ellis with a 66. Mark Hayes-Brian Hurraso placed second at 69.

Closest to the pin winners were Scott Brannin (No. 2) and Erik Shaw (No. 12). …

The team of David Evans, Dillard Darbonne, Jim Cooper and Art Turner won the Babe Zaharias DogFight with 13 points. Second with 12 points was the foursome of Rick Pritchett, Cody Metts, Bob Moore and Jim Thompson. Closest to the hole winners were Ron Mistrot (No. 2), John House (No. 7), Earl Richard (No. 12) and Evans (No. 15). …

The Senior Game at The Babe was played in a points format, with the team of Harry Green, Jim Cooper, Pat Waite and Bob Barnes finishing first with 5 points. Second with plus 3 was the foursome of Larry Johnson, Dan Flood, Jim Burden and Ray Trahan. Closest to the pin winners were Burden (No. 2), Green (No. 7) and Rodney Christman (No. 12, No. 15). …

The Super Saturday Game at The Babe was played in a two-ball format and produced ties on both nines. On the front, the team of Craig Fontenot, Bill Hammond, Don MacNeil and Pete Reobroi finished minus-4, as did the foursome of Bill Hanley, Brent Yellot, Gene Rountree and Paul Brown. The back saw a three-way deadlock at minus-2 between the team of Adam Noel, Gerlad Huebel, Lee Bertrand and Ed Holley, the foursome of Richard, Harrell Guidry, Mike Norris and Don Duplan and the team of Jim Jordan, Thad Borne, Charles Leard and Dan Flood.

Golf news should be emailed to rdwest@usa.net.