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BOB WEST: Braden Bailey plays at Brownwood Open

Dealt loads of lemons in his bid to get a professional golf career off the ground, Braden Bailey started trying to make lemonade in the most unlikely of places — Brownwood, Texas, — Tuesday afternoon.

With other options blocked by alterations COVID-19 forced on various tours, the Port Neches-Groves ex is competing for paychecks on the Adams Professional Tour. First stop was the APT’s 72-hole Brownwood Open that offers a $25,000, first-place check out of a total purse of $130,000.

Bailey, who has not played competitively in months, came out smoking with a five-under-par 65 that included an eagle and five birdies over Brownwood Country Club. That had him tied for third, three shots off the pace of Londoner Greg Eason. The afternoon wave was still on the course as of this writing.

Also, in early contention was West Orange-Stark ex Michael Arnaud who opened with a 66.

The APT Tour will be Bailey’s 2020 focal point, although he will try Monday to qualify his way into some Korn Ferry events and is hopeful of another sponsor exemption into the Houston Open.

Bailey made the most of an offer to play in Houston last year, outplaying fellow PNG pros Andrew Landry and Chris Stroud on the way to tying for 51st at two-under 286.

From Brownwood, he’ll move on to APT stops at Broken Arrow, Oklahoma next week and Bella Vista, Arkansas June 24-27. There are seven APT events on its revised schedule, with July tourneys in Victoria and Texarkana, and August stops in Fort Smith and Muskogee.

Bailey is not new to the APT, having played in three of its tourneys late last summer. He made a strong impression in all three, finishing tied for third in Natchez, Mississippi, fourth at Crown Colony in Lufkin and third in Victoria. For 12 rounds he was 38 under par.

The biggest difference he’ll see on the APT this year is stronger, deeper fields because so many up-and-comers are looking for somewhere to play. Also, the purses are bigger, with a range of $120,000 to $140,000. Winners rake in anywhere from $25,000 to $35,000.

Bailey spent the past few months living at home, working on weights and honing all aspects of his game at Beaumont Country Club. In his final round before heading to Brownwood, he tied his own BCC course record with an 11-under-par 60.

That followed news out of Waco last week that he was one of five players named to Baylor’s all decade golf team.

Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net. Bob West’s column is sponsored by 5 Under Golf Center