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BOB WEST ON GOLF — Women’s pro tourney set for BCC in June

Somewhere up above, boisterous Babe Zaharias is taking a break from taunting Sam Snead about outdriving him and reminding all the assembled LPGA players that they were always playing for second when she showed up for a tournament.


Because back in her old stomping grounds, where they used to play an LPGA tournament called the Babe Zaharias Open from 1954-67, a relatively new organization called the Women’s All Pro Tour is teaming with the Babe Zaharias Foundation to stage another BZO.

There is one major difference between the old and new versions. Instead of LPGA players, the new Babe Zaharias Open will feature young women trying to play their way up to the LPGA.

It’s similar to the APT for men, upon which PNG ex Braden Bailey recently posted three top fives in three tries.

The tournament is set for the week of June 7-13 at Beaumont Country Club. Like a regular LPGA event, it will be contested over 72 holes and will feature a pro-am, a 36-hole cut and the pressures inherent in trying to earn a paycheck.

Winner of the BZO will receive a check for $7,500 and points toward an exemption to play in an event on the Symetra Tour. The Symetra Tour is a stepping stone to the LPGA Tour, and is the women’s equivalent of the men’s Korn Ferry Tour.

Zaharias Foundation president W.L. Pate Jr. was elated over the organization having entered into an agreement to with WAPT chief executive Gary DeSerrano to be the host committee for the event. That role brings fund raising and other challenging behind-the-scenes responsibilities.

Pate, however, sees nothing but upside.

“I am so excited about this,” he said. “Think about it a minute. Babe was one of the founders of the LPGA Tour and was a major reason it got off the ground. Now, over a half century later, we have the chance to get Babe’s name out there on another tour that is going to benefit female golfers.

“There is no doubt in my mind that some of the great corporate citizens in our area will want to be a part of something like this in Babe’s name. It’s a chance to promote women’s professional golf and the Golden Triangle, and to be associated with the greatest female athlete of all time.”

The WAPT will be in its second year in 2020. Ten events were held in 2019, with four in Louisiana, three in Texas, two in Oklahoma and one in Arkansas. The tour’s model is to schedule two tournaments – what it calls a series – in close proximity in back-to-back weeks to minimize player expenses.

DeSerrano, who is sort of the king of mini tours in the South Central United States, goes all the way back to what was known as the Ninfa’s Texas Tour in the early 2000s. He is probably best recognized for what ultimately became the Adams Tour and now operates as the APT.

Gary and wife Kathy head up what is called K&G Sports LLC.

The idea for a WAPT, says DeSerrano, came from young women who had no place to hone their games after their college careers came to an end.

“There was nothing for them to compete in,” he said. “Some of the girls would come and caddie on the men’s tour and say how much they would love for us to do something like that for women. There was definitely a void for players wanting to get to the Symetra Tour and to the LPGA.”

The Zaharias Foundation has entered into an initial two-year agreement to be the host committee for the BZO, and stands to benefit financially if the tournament proves to be a success. Among other things, Pate will be looking for volunteers willing to lend a hand for what is a major undertaking in terms of hours worked.

“Anything over and above expenses goes to the Zaharias Foundation,” he confirmed. “But the top priority is getting this tournament off the ground and making it something special. It’s a chance to add to Babe’s legacy and to bring more women into professional golf.

“Babe would be all in on something like this.”

Indeed she would.

CHIP SHOTS: In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, the team of Bill Hammond, Joe Gongora, Rick Pritchett and Rick Morales won the front with minus 1. On the back, there was a three-way tie at minus 1 among teams captained by James Shipley, Kenny Robbins and Bob West.

Closest to the pin winners were Roddy Richard (No. 2), Pete Reobroi (No. 7), Shipley (No. 12) and Gongora (No. 15). Low medal scores were 72s shot by Jimmy Cady and Robbins . . .

The Wednesday DogFight at Babe Zaharias was played in an all-points-count format. Placing first with 26 points was the foursome of Butch Cross, Raymond Darbonne, John LeBlanc and Paul Duplantis.

Second with 25 points was the team of Bim Morrow, Brian Grant, Charlie Perez and Jerry Watson.

Closest to the pin wins were Frank LeBlanc (No. 2), Mike Brown (No. 7), Darbonne (No. 12) and Robert Stansbury (No. 15).

Golf news should be emailed to rdwest@usa.net