BOB WEST ON GOLF: Patriot All-America moving experience for Baylor’s Bailey

Published 12:29 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Long before a gap wedge tee shot on the next to last hole of the Patriot All-America trickled into the cup for his third ace, Braden Bailey knew he’d be headed back home to Groves with special memories and a greater appreciation for those who have died in war fighting for America’s interests.

The hole-in-one was just icing on the cake.

“That was pretty sweet,” said Bailey, who would wind up tied for 20th in the Patriot All-America Invitational. It game me a lift at a time I was a little frustrated with my game. I am going to sign the ball and send it to the family of Capt. Moshier.”

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That would be Jim and Mary Ellen Moshier, parents of Capt. Timothy Moshier, whose name adorned Baily’s red, white and blue golf bag at last week’s tournament to honor fallen heroes in Litchfield Park, Ariz. Moshier died in Iraq when his Apache helicopter was shot down in 2006.

Though Bailey was somewhat disappointed in his golf, after rounds of 69-73-69 on the par 70 Wigwam Gold layout, he had no trouble grasping the big picture.

“It was such a different experience, playing for something bigger than yourself,” he reflected. “Carrying the bag with that fallen solider’s name meant a lot. It was a constant reminder of putting things in perspective. It provided extra motivation.”

Bailey did not mind admitting he shed a few tears during the tournament’s opening ceremonies, after one of the wives of a fallen solider spoke, then jets from a nearby Air Force base came roaring over in a missing man formation.

The capper was watching airmen parachute onto the golf course carrying American flags.

“It was a tear-jerking moment to be sure,” he said. “It was just so different from anything I’ve ever experienced in golf. It’s something I will never forget. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to play in that tournament.”

Bailey, because his game was a bit rusty after not playing competitively for several weeks, and going through finals at Baylor, didn’t show up with his normal high expectations. He knew there was rust to be knocked off.

Eight holes in, however, he was four under par and tied for the lead. Unfortunately, he would make only four more birdies over the final 46 holes. Two of those came on the back nine of day one.

“I didn’t miss a shot the first 10 or 11 holes, and missed three birdies inside 10 feet,” he said. “But then I started hitting some loose shots with my wedges and making some really dumb bogeys. I threw away a lot of little shots that really added up.”

The obvious golfing highlight was the hole-in-one on the 117-yard, 17th hole on the final day. The pin was close to water and tucked into a punch bowl that kept Bailey from seeing the shot roll into the cup.

“I hit a little trap, draw gap wedge into the slope behind the pin,” he said. “I saw it hit the slope and start trickling back. It seemed like the ball rolled forever, then there was a big roar from behind the green. I figured it must have gone in.”

Bailey’s plan to send the ball to the Moshiers was a continuation of a new friendship developed through e-mails. Prior to the event, the family sent him a Timothy J. Moshier foundation golf shirt and an outsized challenge coin with Moshier’s name on it.”

There was also this food for thought for Braden in an email to his dad, Brad Bailey, from the Moshiers.

“We will follow Braden and the other Bears this weekend, and wish them luck. Please let them know that when they get on that first tee, or over a difficult shot, or are looking at difficult putt, that they are not alone, but will always have someone looking at that shot with them.”

Sort of makes you wonder if that hole in one didn’t have a bit of steering help from on high.


In the Tuesday Twister best two-ball game at Babe Zaharias, the team of Benny Sharpe, Earl Richard, Dillard Darbonne and Billy Thillet won the front with minus 2. On the back, the foursome of Larry Thompson, Rick Pritchett, John House and Jim Cooper tied at minus 1 with the team of Bob West, Adam Noel, Ron Mistrot and Paul Duplantis. …

In the Friday 2-ball game at Zaharias, there was a tie on the front at minus-1 between the team of Tim Turner, Troy Touchett, Dan Flood and Cooper and the foursome of Gary Whitfill, Cody Metts, Charles Perez and Duplantis. On the back, the team of Steve Picou, Cap Hollier, Don MacNeil and James Trahan won with minus-3. …

The Thursday Senior Game at The Babe was played in a flighted, 9-9 format with two-man teams. In First Flight, the team of Mike Lansford-Gene Jones tied with the duo of Cricket Owen-Bob Byerly at 72.

There was a three-way tie in Second Flight at 74 between Harrell Guidry-John Jessen, Gerald Huebel-Lee Bertrand and Harry Green-Ron Mistrot. Third Flight was won with a 75 by MacNeil-Harold Wilkinson. …

Closest to the pin winners were Hollier (No. 2), Owen (No. 7) and Cooper (No. 12, No. 5). …

The Wednesday Babe Zaharias DogFight saw a two-way tie at 18 points between the team of Noel, Richard, Roger Baumer and Trahan and the foursome of Ed Holley, Pritchett, Brian Guidry and Don Duplan. Closest to the hole winners were Charlie Leard (No. 2), Pritchett (No. 7) and Huebel (No. 12, No. 15).

In a closing note that has absolutely nothing to do with golf, I’d like to give a shout out to Larry Neumann. As you no doubt have heard, Larry has announced his retirement after 23 years as Nederland’s head football coach.

As one who covered high school football in Southeast Texas for 47 years, and dealt with scores of coaches, Neumann was one of my favorites. Though he could get a little testy at times during PNG week, Larry was a delight to work with and to watch in action.

During his 23 years at Nederland, I don’t think any coach in the area maximized his talent to the extent Neumann did. Following him is not going to be easy. All the best, Larry.

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