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BOB WEST ON GOLF: Stroud gets sponsor exemption into SHO

From both a Southeast Texas and big-picture standpoint, the upcoming Shell Houston Open has become considerably more appealing in the past few days.

For area golf fans, the best news is Port Neches-Groves ex and Lamar All-America Chris Stroud will be in the field on a sponsor exemption. Stroud, after losing his FedEx Cup exempt status, has been on the outside looking on during the bulk of the 2016-17 season.

The SHO, once again being played at the Golf Club of Houston, will be only his sixth start, and that’s counting next week in Puerto Rico. He last played in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in mid February. That was his first tourney since the RSM Classic Nov. 17-20 in Sea Island, Ga.

It will be Stroud’s 10th consecutive SHO, and the previous three provide reason for optimism. He finished tied for 12th in 2014, T17 in 2015 and T27 last season. Because of limited opportunities to play, it is imperative that Chris play well and accumulate FedEx points.

Thanks to a T13 at the RSM, he is still No. 160 on the FedEx chart, despite limited chances. But things are looking up. After Puerto Rico and Houston, he knows he’s in the field for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the Colonial. He’s also confident of making it into the Byron Nelson.

A top 10 and a couple of other solid weeks and he could jump right back into the FedEx mix.

Meanwhile, the above big-picture reference is about commitments the SHO has received from world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Texas favorite Jordan Spieth, who is currently No. 6. They join No. 8 Adam Scott and fan favorite Phil Mickelson (No. 19) as big names headed to Houston the week before the Masters.

It is anticipated several other top-ranked players will commit to the SHO before the March 24 deadline. For those who have not heard, this will be the 26th and final year for Shell to sponsor Houston’s PGA Tour stop.

CHIP SHOTS

Sam Ashworth of Warren authored the most recent hole in one at Babe Zaharias. Ashworth holed a gap wedge from 93 yards on No. 7 for his third ace. The shot was witnessed by Jack Maddox, Jerry McDonald and Larry Shannon …

Cap Hollier of Groves scored an eagle-2 on the par-4, 11th hole at Zaharias. Hollier blasted his driver to within 6 feet on the 11th, which plays 240 yards for players who cut off the dog leg, then sank the putt.

Witnesses were Tom LeTourneau, Tony Trevino and Ralph Childress …

Karlei Hemler shot a one-under par 71 to win medalist honors and help the Port Neches-Groves girls team to another lopsided victory in Nederland’s tournament at Brentwood Country Club in Beaumont. Brynna Bailey backed Hemler with a 76, Rian Weatherford shot 88 and Kensey Dukes added a 93 as PNG posted a team total of 328.

Nederland was a distant second at 442 …

Lamar’s men’s team finished 16th in a field of 19 teams in the rain shortened Border Olympics in Laredo over the weekend. LU, paced by a one-over 145 (67-78) by Mans Bergland, shot a team total of 591 that was 32 shots behind Campbell University’s winning score of 559.

Berglund wound up T37 out of 100 players. Other Lamar scores included Zander Gous 146 (74-72), Eason Wang 149 (78-71) and Cody Banach 151. Sixth man Charlie Flowers shot 154 …

In the Monday Senior 50 Plus best two-ball game at Babe Zaharias, the team of Bob West, Don MacNeil, Russ Gloede and Tommy Duhon won the front in 7-under.

On the back, minus 3 was the winning number for the foursome of Mike Norris, Cecil Norris, Larry Foster and Gene Hardy …

The Friday two-ball game at Zaharias saw a sweep for the team of Hollier, Gary Hanan, Lee Bertrand and Paul Duplantis. They won the front with minus-3 and the back with minus 2 …

Format for the Thursday Senior 55 Plus Game was total points for four-man teams. Plus-6 won the front for Benny Sharpe, Foster, Hardy and David Sturgal. On the back, the foursome of Adam Noel, Raymond Darbonne, Jess McPhillips and Duplantis won with plus-2.

Closest to the pin winners were MacNeil (No. 2), Hanan (No. 7), Dennis Frazier (No. 12) and Noel (No. 15) …

The team of Ron LaSalle, Noel, John House and Mark Turnbull won the Wednesday Babe Zaharias DogFight with 16 points. Second with 14 points was the foursome of Hollier, Morrow, Rick Pritchett and McPhillips.

Closest to the pin winners were Lasalle (No. 2, No. 12), Noel (No. 7) and Hollier (No. 15).

Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net.