BOB WEST ON GOLF: Nederland’s Sauceda among Cardinals going to NCAAs

Published 11:23 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Of the 72 women’s teams competing in four NCAA golf regionals this week, it’s doubtful any of them bring a more unlikely story than Lamar’s Cardinals.

Lamar, you see, only had three players on its roster when Jessica Steward was hired as the coach last July. Not until Nederland’s Felicia’s Sauceda came on board as a walk-on did the Cardinals have the minimum of four players to compete in team events.

The addition of Australian Kura Poko in January enabled Stewart to field a full team of five players. In college golf, as at the high school level, teams can send out five players, with the low four scores counting.

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Even with a severe lack of depth and flexibility, Lamar won its fourth consecutive Southland Conference Championship and earned its fourth straight trip to an NCAA regional. They are seeded 17th out of 18 teams in the regional that tees off Thursday at The Traditions Golf Club in Bryan.

Biggest reason LU continued its SLC dominance is two-time conference player of the year Wendy Chang. Chang, from Hsinchu, Taiwan, won four tournaments this year and ran away with the SLC individual crown. She posted an impressive 74.39 stroke average.

Chang, however, couldn’t have been part of another SLC championship without a full stable of able teammates. Taylor Stockton of Clear Lake, Oliva LeRoux of Brackenfell, South Africa, Poko and Sauceda all had their moments.

Sauceda, of course, makes the Cardinals of more than passing interest in Southeast Texas. Felicia, one of the area’s best and most versatile female athletes during her career at Nederland, pretty well dominated girls golf her last three years of high school.

Blessed with a full academic scholarship, and intent on getting a degree in mechanical engineering, she opted to pass on college golf. Only sparingly was she able to play a game she loved, while tackling a formidable academic challenge. Now, though, she is back full force and getting better by the week.

Good luck to Felicia and the Cardinals in Bryan. They both make for a fascinating story.


Chris Stroud’s 20th-place tie in the rain-shortened Zurich Classic of New Orleans was his second-best of the 2015-16 season, and his high-water mark since a T10 in the Open back on Oct. 18. The Port Neches-Groves ex put himself in position to have a good tournament by playing a five-hole stretch of the second round in 5-under par. With the top 20 finish and check for $64,909, Stroud jumps to No. 133 in Fed Ex points and No. 137 in money ($338,901). He must finish in the top 125 in FedEx points to keep his PGA Tour card. Stroud returns to action Thursday at the Wells Fargo Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Also in the field are LU exes Shawn Stefani and Dawie van der Walt. …

PN-G ex Braden Bailey was looking at a top-10 finish in the Big 12 Championships until a final-round 77 on Sunday dropped him back to T19 in a field of 50 players.

The Baylor freshman shot rounds of 76-73-71-77 for a 72-hole total of nine-over par 287 at difficult Whispering Pines in Trinity. Bailey had the second low score for a Bears’ team that finished in fifth place, 18 shots behind the winning total posted by Texas.

Baylor is expected to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. …

Cody Metts of Nederland authored the shot of the week in area amateur circles, holing a pitching wedge from 135 yards for an eagle-2 on Bayou Din’s par 4, 12th hole. …

The team of Chris Oliver, Shane Trahan, Mark Orta and Jerry Thompson needed a scorecard playoff to win the St. Paul Lutheran Church Scramble at Bayou Din. They shot 62, as did the foursome of Jerry Jones, Bubba Morgan, Charles Morgan and Gerald Robinson. Closest to the pin winners were Jones (No. 2), 10-year-old Jeffrey Wolfe (No. 7), Joe Wolfe (No. 12) and Thompson (No. 15). Charles Cooksey won the long drive on No. 18 and Andrew Wueller holed the longest putt on both No. 1 and No. 9. …

The Super Saturday Game played at Babe Zaharias, with a best two-ball format, saw the team of Randy Monk, Metts, Don MacNeil and Robert Lynch win the front in even. On the back, the team of Rick Pritchett, Harry Green and Troy Touchet won with minus-1. …

The Friday Game at Zaharias was also played in a 2-ball format. Winning the front with minus-2 was the foursome of Craig Fontenot, Green, Charles Leard and Tommy Duhon. Taking the back with

minus-4 was the team of Benny Sharpe, Gary Fontenot, Tony Trevino and Ralph Childress. …

The Thursday Senior Game at The Babe was played in a four-person select drive format, with all points counting. The team of Gary Fontenot, Dwayne Morvant, Don MacNeil, Dillard Darbonne and Rodney Christman rolled up 24 points to place first. Closest to the pin winners were Duhon (No. 2), Art Miller (No. 7), Darbonne (No. 12) and Cap Hollier (No. 15).

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