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BOB WEST ON GOLF: Golf Channel validates PNG duo’s rare air

A week ago, after Port Neches-Groves exes Andrew Landry and Chris Stroud finished third and tied for fourth, respectively, in the John Deere Classic, the opening thought in this column was to question whether two players from the same high school had ever placed in the top four in the same PGA Tour event.

Thanks to research done at the Golf Channel, the question has been answered up to a point.

Dating back 13 years, it has happened one time. Bubba Watson and Heath Slocum from Milton High School in Baghdad, Florida, tied for third in the 2006 Chrysler Tucson Classic. Watson and Slocum, you may remember, were one of the two possibilities speculated.

Expanding the equation to top-five finishes, there was one other instance uncovered. Keith Mitchell (T2) and Harris English (T5), of the upscale Baylor School in Chattanooga, did it in the 2018 Corales Puntacana Championship.

A Golf Channel contact has indicated research going farther back will be done when time permits. Complicating the process is the fact PGA players are linked to their colleges, not to their high schools. There is little awareness of where even the very top players competed as schoolboys.

Quick, can you name Tiger Woods’ high school? Jack Nicklaus’? Ben Hogan’s?

In the big picture, as was pointed out to me, this is not a big issue on the totem pole. While agreeing with the premise, and finding it ironic “totem pole” was the choice of words for a couple of PNG Indians, my thought is that it’s a huge deal to Southeast Texas in general and PNG High School and the city of Groves in particular.

Given the culture of golf at its highest levels, for two PNG grads who grew up on a nine-hole goat ranch called the Pea Patch to even be on the PGA Tour is remarkable. Then for them to pull off a feat accomplished only one other time since 2006 takes it to extraordinary.

It would be a big deal if the two players involved were from wealthy backgrounds like Highland Park, The Woodlands or the Baylor School, where tuition is more than some colleges. Young golfers coming through those, and many, many other upscale environments, have access to more of the opportunities needed to reach the game’s highest level.

What Landry and Stroud have done with their golf careers has been pretty amazing. Both have won on the PGA Tour, which many players never do. Both have had seasons when they eclipsed $2 million in earnings. Both have enjoyed high profile moments — Landry in a U.S. Open, Stroud in a PGA — that drew attention on the big stage.

Now, they have in tandem pulled off one of golf’s rarest feats and it’s worth bragging about.

Meanwhile, the PNG pair is back in action this week in the Barracuda Classic being played in a Stableford format in Reno. Most eyes in the golf world will be focused on the World Golf Championship event being played in Memphis, but the Barracuda carries significant ramifications for those involved.

Two years ago it was the backdrop for Stroud’s first PGA win, a triumph that extended his tour card for two years. Chris doesn’t go in under the gun this time, having secured his PGA Tour card for next year at the John Deere.

But, at No. 96 on the FedEx points list, he’ll be looking to move up and better his chances of going deeper in the playoffs.

Landry, on the other hand, is now on the outside looking in. While taking last week off, he dropped to 127 in FedEx points. Another familiar name, Lamar ex Shawn Stefani is right behind at 128.

Both need a strong showing to get into the playoffs, although there will be one last chance next week in Greensboro, N.C.

For Stefani, his tour card for next year is on the line. Landry’s card is secure, but the competitor in him wants to be in the playoffs.

Based on the way Andrew played in the John Deere, his game looks to be peaking. Don’t be surprised if he has another strong week.

CHIP SHOTS

LCM junior-to-be Jack Burke continues to trumpet that he’s going to be the next big-time player to come out of Southeast Texas.

Burke shot rounds of 75-74-73 to finish fifth in a field of 132 in last week’s American Junior Golf Association Folds of Honor/Bob Estes Championship at Fairway Oaks in Abilene.

The significance of a top-five in that event for Burke is that it qualifies him for all AJGA tournaments through the 2021 season. He won’t have to play in any qualifiers.

Burke is currently playing in the Texas Junior Amateur that wraps up today at Kingwood Country Club. …

PNG ex Braden Bailey will have a chance to earn his first paycheck as a professional this week. Bailey will tee it up Thursday in the 72-hole CoBank Colorado Open being played at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver.

The tourney boasts a $250,000 pursue, with a first place payout of $100,000. There are 156 players in the field. Bailey, though he has not been able to make it through any of four Monday qualifiers on the Canadian PGA’s Mackenzie Tour, was under par in all four and feels confident about where his game is. …

Xander Parks fired a 77 to best Keaton Degeyter by two strokes and win Boys 15-18 in last week’s Southeast PGA Junior Tour stop at Babe Zaharias. Keeping it all in the family, Lincoln Parks prevailed in Boys 13-14 with an 87.

Other flight winners included Hayden Boyette (91 in Boys 11-12), Annabel Cardenas (94 in Girls 13-14) and Tatum Bean (99 in Girls 11-12).

Monday’s Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias saw the team of Bob Luttrell, Jimmy Cady, Rusty Hicks and Dwayne Benoit win the front with minus-3 and tie the back at minus-2. Also posting minus-2 on the back were teams captained by Kenny Robbins and Bob West. …

In the Saturday Super Senior 2 ball at Zaharias, there was a tie on the front at minus-3 between the team of Gene Jones, Earl Richard, Jay Hampson and Don Duplan and the foursome of Price Youngs, Kaycee Begaman, Bill Hanley and Mike Tibbets. The Jones team took the back with minus-2. …

Friday’s Senior 2-ball at Zaharias produced a tie at minus-4 on the front between the team of Gary Hanan, Craig Landry, Dan Flood and Roger Baumer and the team of Bill Hammond, Josh Sheppard, Eddie Delk and Dan Chandler.

The back ended in a three-way tie between the Hammond team, a team captained by Ron Lasalle and a foursome captained by Jones. …

Wednesday’s Dogfight finished in a two-way tie at 15 points between the team of Joe Gongora, Gary Fontenot, Charles Perrio and ghost player Dan Flood and the foursome of Jeff Lane, Richard, Baumer and Richard Menchaca. Closest to the pin winners were Cap Hollier (No. 2), Cricket Owen (No. 7), LaSalle (No. 12) and Benoit (No. 15).

Golf news should be emailed to rdwest@usa.net.