Braden Bailey finishes fourth in Lufkin

Published 6:42 pm Friday, August 23, 2019

Braden Bailey shot five strokes better than his third-round pace, and the Groves resident turned in a 67 Friday to finish fourth at the All-Pro Tour’s Southside Bank Open at Crown Colony Country Club in Lufkin.

Bailey, a recent Baylor graduate, earned his second top-five finish in as many appearances and pocketed $3,300. Bailey shot 11-under 277 for the tournament.

He’s not surprised at the quick start he’s having on the Texas-based tour.

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“Not really,” Bailey said. “I mean, I know my college career didn’t end out how I liked it to. I felt like I needed to make some progress at the beginning of the summer. I was ready to get into a four-day tournament where I would be able to put four rounds together. It was nice to get to Mississippi where I could show I could put four rounds together.”

It was in Natchez, Mississippi, where Bailey took third in the Taco Bell Natchez Classic.

Sam Stevens held off Lamar graduate M.J. Daffue and Peyton Wilhoit by one stroke to win the $20,000 top prize. Stevens carded a final-round 71 to wind up with a 275, beating Daffue’s 72. Wilhoit tied Daffue with a 69.

The difference between first and second places amounted to $12,300.

Bailey was on his way to a birdie-free round when he bogeyed the par-3 17th. He made birdies on Nos. 1, 5, 8, 11, 13 and 16.

For the tournament, Bailey shot 70-68-72-67.

“It was kind of a different mindset,” he said, comparing his All-Pro Tour success to his experience at Baylor, where he was named All-American twice. “This is my career now. I had to find a way to make a living out of it. Whenever something happens bad on the course, I think I’ve done a better job of being resilient. I just told myself to stay patient and stay tough.”

The big story Friday might have been Daffue’s collapse and Stevens’ near-collapse on the par-5 18th.

Daffue led Stevens by one stroke going into the final round. He eagled the par-5 third and birdied No. 8 on his way to a 3-under front nine, then birdied Nos. 12 and 13 before recording a bogey at No. 15. Daffue parred the next two holes before shooting a 9 on the final hole. He lost a ball and hit another out of bounds.

That opened the door for Stevens, who recorded a 7 on the final to avoid further disaster and earn the win. Stevens bogeyed No. 8 and No. 10, but made birdies at Nos. 4, 5, 9, 13 and 15 to stay within range.

“It’s a narrow tee shot,” Bailey said. “I think they tried to get aggressive and hit drivers. Sam hit one out of bounds, and M.J. hit two out of bounds. I played that hole pretty conservative. I didn’t hit driver.”

The next stop on the All-Pro Tour is the Victoria Open starting Sept. 11.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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