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BOB WEST ON GOLF: Stroud aces, gets game going

On paper, a tie for 55th in a PGA Tour event absent many of golf’s biggest names may not seem to be that big a deal. If, however, you are Chris Stroud, you have really struggled while missing cuts in your first two starts of the 2018-19 season and you are in need of some positive vibes, tying Jordan Spieth for 55th last weekend in Las Vegas is a step in the right direction.

“It was a good week,” said Stroud, and could have been so much better. “I just gotta get to driving better. I was 127th off the tee in driving, but sixth in proximity to the hole. It is crazy how good my irons are.”

Stroud’s irons were zoned in enough for him to make 13 birdies while shooting 69-69-68 the first three rounds. Those first 54 holes also included two eagles, with the first of them being Stroud’s eighth career hole in one. He nearly made another ace later that day.

The hole-in-one, an 8-iron from 161 yards, came on Stroud’s fifth hole of the tournament. The next day, after a stumbling start and falling a stroke off the cut line, he eagled the par 5, ninth hole with an 8-foot putt, then made four birdies in a five-hole stretch.

Unfortunately for Stroud, he was not able to move up the leaderboard on Sunday, settling for three birdies and three bogeys on the way to an even par 71. But, again, enough good things happened to send him to this week’s tour stop in Mexico with the feeling a breakthrough could be imminent.

Also working in Stroud’s favor this week should be past success in the Mayakoba Open. He has a tie for third and an outright fourth in the tourney played in Playa del Carmen. On the way to that fourth place finish, he reeled off his PGA career best of eight consecutive birdies during one of the rounds …

CHIP SHOTS

Andrew Landry, whose hopes for a fast start in the 2018-19 season got sidetracked by a health issue, will be joining Stroud in Mexico. It’s only his second tourney of the year and the first since he missed the cut a month ago in the Safeway Open.

To make up for missing a couple of high dollar, no cut events overseas in October, Landry has added Mayakoba and next week’s RSM Classic at Sea Island, Georgia. He’ll also be playing in Greg Norman’s QBE Shootout, a partnership event in Naples, Florida. His partner is former world No. 1 Luke Donald …

Most fans of the PGA Tour are no doubt aware Paul Azinger has been named to replace outspoken and controversial Johnny Miller as NBC’s golf analyst. Azinger, who claimed two majors among 12 wins on the PGA Tour, and was captain of America’s victorious Ryder Cup team in 2008, also has a reputation as a “tell it like it is guy” as a TV commentator.

Azinger, at times, has been especially critical of Tiger Woods, but recent comments show he has a very good grasp of what Woods means to golf in the big picture.

“I mean, is the game 20 percent better with Tiger?” he said. “I almost think it is 100 percent better with Tiger. I look at the PGA Tour and I think the Tour is a two-show pony. Tiger is one and a half and the rest are a half. It’s the truth.

“That scene at the Tour Championship when Woods waded through the masses to get to the 18th green? That’s one of the greatest scenes ever. I loved watching that as a fan. How do you define that draw capability?” …

In the Monday Super Senior 50 Plus 2-ball at Babe Zaharias, the team of Bob West, Larry Reece, Larry Johnson, Don MacNeal and Dwayne Benoit won the front with minus 2. That was also the winning score on the back for the fivesome of Bill Hanley, Joe Gongora, Rick Pritchett, John LeBlance and Charles Perez …

The Saturday 2-ball at Zaharias saws ties on the front and the back. The team of West, Gongora, Pete Reobroi and ghost player Cap Hollier got a share of the front at minus 3 and a piece of the back at minus 1.

Tying the front nine was the foursome of Adam Davis, Harrell Guidry, Hollier and John Ramsey. Sharing the back was the team of Earl Richard, Gene Jones, Tom LeTourneau and Stuart Ellis …

The Friday Super Senior 2 ball at Zaharias saw the team of Russ Gloede, Ron Mistrot, Johnson and LeTourneau take the front at minus 6.On the back, the foursome of Benny Sharpe, Guidry, Dillard Darbonne and Reobroi prevailed at minus 1 …

Wednesday’s DogFight was played in a best 2-ball format. Winning the front with minus-6 was the team of Keith Mullins, Guidry, LeTourneau and Mike Rodgers. On the back, Sharpe, Ron LaSalle, Raymond Darbonne and Sid Ducote won with minus 3.

Closest to the pin winners were Mistrot (No. 2, No. 7), LeTourneau (No. 12) and Steve Wisenbaker (No. 15) …

Golf news should be emailed to rdwest@usa.net