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BOB WEST ON GOLF — Former Cardinal Julie Aime should have edge in BZO

There is definitely a hometown fan favorite in the inaugural Women’s APT Babe Zaharias Open, even if she is from France.

Beyond that, Lamar University ex Julie Aime, playing on a Beaumont Country Club Course she knows better than anyone else in the field, is the logical favorite to win.

Aime, winner of three tournaments during her time with the Cardinals, has been playing the Symetra Tour, which is a step up from the Women’s APT. After a rookie season in 2019 that saw her author four top 10s, she already has two top 10s this year and is 16th on that developmental tour’s money list.

The native of Nice, France, is competing in a field of 78 players, including six of the top 10 on the WAPT money list. Perhaps fortunately for her, Kristen Gillman, who finished 1-1-2 in three summer starts, and is a rising star on the LPGA Tour, is not in the field for the 54-hole tourney running Wednesday through Friday.

The brainchild of Babe Zaharias Foundation president W.L. Pate Jr., the BZO brings women’s professional golf back to Southeast Texas for the first time since 1967. That was the last time the LPGA Tour’s Babe Zaharias Open, which made its debut in 1953 at BCC, was played.

For the Women’s APT, conceived by Gary DeSerrano as a stepping-stone to the Symetra Tour, this will be only the seventh tournament of the year and the first since the Central Arkansas Open in late July. Like all other sports, the WAPT took a spring and summer hit from COVID 19.

In addition to a check for $7,500, the tournament winner gets a spot in an upcoming Symetra Tournament. Aime, of course, already has status on the Symetra. But having her name on the Babe Zaharias Trophy, and winning in the town and on the course where she played college golf, would certainly be a huge bonus.

Play begins each day at 8 a.m. Aime teed off at 9:30 a.m. on No. 10 Wednesday and starts from No. 1 at 8:20 a.m. Thursday.

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