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BOB WEST ON GOLF: Tiger’s PGA roar inspires Landry, enhances legend

Tiger Woods’ mesmerizing performance over the weekend at the PGA Championship in St. Louis was remarkable in so many ways, not the least of which was an opportunity to relish the absolute rarest form of athletic greatness many of us will ever witness.

Though he came up two shots short of Brooks Kopeka, one of the game’s numerous rising young stars who idolized him, Tiger was undeniably the star of the show. Or maybe you didn’t notice that perhaps 80 percent of the record gallery at Bellerive appeared to follow him every step of the way.

Nobody in sports, as has often been said, moves the needle like Tiger.

Ratings just out for the PGA Championship once again underscore that fact. Sunday’s 6.1 was up 69 percent from Justin Thomas’ win last year, and was the PGA’s highest since Tiger was trying to win his fifth PGA title in 2009.

But let’s go a step farther with the so called Tiger Effect. Only one of golf’s five biggest events this year — the U.S. Open — didn’t have a double digit ratings jump. Why was that, you ask? Easy. Tiger missed the cut.

With Tiger finishing 31st, the Masters rating jumped 16 percent. The Players Championship soared 56 percent as Tiger placed 11th. In the British Open, as Tiger led briefly on the back nine the final day, the TV number was up 38 percent to its highest rating since 2000.

Among other things, what Tiger’s resurgence means is that you are smiling all the way to the bank, if you own Nike or Bridgestone stock or are the network televising the Ryder Cup (NBC). Beyond that, continued strong play for Woods is a windfall for the golf industry in general and PGA Tour players in particular.

Nobody appreciates the latter more than Port Neches-Groves ex Andrew Landry. On track to soar over $3 million in official earnings this year, Landry will tell you in a heartbeat than Woods’ rising-tide impact on professional golf is largely responsible.

He is also quick to detail how thrilling it was to be playing Bellerive when Tiger brought down the thunder Saturday and Sunday with rounds of 66-64.

“The atmosphere was unlike anything I’ve experienced at a major,” he said. “The crowds were bigger and the roars were louder. By far the best I have ever seen. The galleries around Tiger were just nuts. You knew where he was all the time. You knew what he was doing without watching the scoreboard.”

Landry finished up a respectable two-under-par 278 about the time Tiger was making the turn. He headed back to his motel, popped the cap on a cold beer and watched in amazement at what unfolded.

“I wanted him to win so bad,” said Landry. “He is just so great for the game. I don’t mind telling you I got chills at some of the roars. Him shooting 32 on the front nine without hitting a fairway is insane. Nobody else could come close to that.”

What brought Landry out of his chair was the driver, 9-iron Woods hit to about two feet on the 495-yard, par 4, 15th.

“I hit a really good tee shot and had a 4-iron into the green,” he said. “Tiger had 9-iron. When he made birdie there and par on 16, I thought he had a
chance to win. The drive on 17 really hurt. He needed to make eagle or at least birdie there.”

Landry, who is skipping the final PGA Tour event of the 2017-18 season to tune up for next week’s start of the Fed Ex Cup playoffs, said he is thrilled to be a part of the PGA Tour at a time when Woods is enjoying a rebirth.

“He was my hero as a kid and now he’s going strong again,” said Landry. “If he keeps performing the way he is, and stays healthy, it is going to be crazy
good to be on the PGA Tour the next few years.”

CHIP SHOTS

Chris Stroud, who was in the first group out at Bellerive on Sunday, shot a closing 66 that tied for the fourth low round of the day.

Stroud, however, dropped one spot to 149 in FedEx points with a tie for 65th. Unless he finishes in the top three at this week’s Wyndham Championship, his 2017-18 season is likely over …

Also up against the wall this week is West Orange-Stark ex Michael Arnaud. He looked to be in great shape to earn a PGA Tour card after winning on the Web.com Tour earlier in the year, but has slumped and is now on the outside looking in entering the final tournament of the regular season.

Finishing in the top 25 on the Web.com money list gets a player a PGA Tour card. Arnaud has dropped to 30th, and is $14,000 out of 25th. Based on the size of Web.com purses, he needs a top-10 finish at the WinCo Foods Portland Open.

If Arnaud doesn’t make it, there will be a second chance in the four tournaments that make up the Web.com Finals. Finishing in the top 25 in the Finals also earns a PGA Tour card …

In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2-ball at Babe Zaharias, there was a tie at minus-3 on the front between the team of Benny Sharpe, Bob Luttrell, Larry
Foster and Paul Duplantis and the foursome of Bob West, Larry Johnson, James Trahan and Pete Reobroi.

On the back, there was a three-way tie at minus 1 between the Sharpe team, the team of Gary Fontenot, Bob Byerly, Don MacNeil and Dwayne Benoit and the foursome of Kenny Robbins, Cap Hollier, Ray Darbonne and Roger Baumer …

The Saturday Super Senior 2 ball at Zaharias saw the team of Craig Fontenot, Gary Fontenot, MacNeil and Craig Castille win the front in plus 1.

On the back, there was a tie at minus 2 between the team of James Shipley, Harrel Guidry, Jay Hampson and Reobroi and the foursome of Ron Carlin, Bim Morrow, Dan Floyd and Ron Hicks …

In the Friday Senior 2 ball at Zaharias, the team of Byerly, Ron LaSalle, Foster and Baumer won the front in minus 3. On the back, the team of Doug LeBlanc, Larry Reece, Ron Mistrot and Reobroi placed first at even par …

Format for the Thursday Senior Game at Zaharias was 2-ball. There was a three-way tie on the front at minus-2 between teams captained by James
Shipley, LeBlanc and Robbins. On the back, the foursome of Sharpe, Earl Richard, Keith Marshall and Paul Brown won with minus-4.

Closest to the pin winners were Sharpe (No. 7), LeBlanc (No. 12) and Rick Pritchett (No. 15). The Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was won with 15 points by the team of Keith Mullins, LeBlanc, Duplantis and Don Duplan. Second with 13 points was the foursome of Gary Fontenot, Larry Johnson, Charles Perez and Carl Certa.

Closest to the pin winners were LeBlanc (No. 2, No. 15), Robbins (No. 7) and Shipley (No. 12).

Golf news should be emailed to rdwest@usa.net