BOB WEST ON GOLF — Lamar ex Dawie van der Walt snags PGA Tour card

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Hearty congratulations are in order for 2008 Lamar University grad Dawie van der Walt. Chris Stroud’s one-time LU roommate earned a PGA Tour card over the weekend by tying for 15th in the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.

The T15, combined with a T10 the previous week in the second of the three tournament Korn Ferry finals, enabled Van der Walt to finish 17th overall. Tour cards go to those finishing in the top 25 of both the Korn Ferry regular season and finals.

Van der Walt previously earned a PGA tour card in 2016 but wasn’t able to retain it.

His is a terrific story of persistence and overcoming adversity that includes a traumatic story of being flooded out of his Kingwood home for months after Hurricane Harvey. Ironically, it was a major fundraiser organized by Stroud that helped the 38-year-old South Africa native get back on his feet.

Van der Walt seemed to be a star in the making after being a three-time All-Southland Conference player at LU, and the SLC’s Player of the Year in 2007. However, he was sort of up and down on the lower-level tours until a 2015 breakthrough that saw him win twice on the Korn-Ferry predecessor – the Web.com Tour.

That helped him get his PGA Tour shot, but he finished 179 in Fed Ex Cup points while making 11 cuts in 25 starts, with one top 25. He’s been on the Web.com/Korn Ferry ever since.

The Hurricane Harvey devastation of 2017 proved to be a major setback to Van der Walt’s career. He estimated out-of-pocket losses on his home at roughly $250,000, and his golf was put on the back burner for months.

An imposing figure at 6-5, 260, Dawie has been a workhorse since the start of the 2020 season, playing in 46 events and making the cut in 31. Included are six tops 10s, with one second place and $269,000 in earnings.

With much lost time to make up for, expect to see him in every PGA Tour event where he can get into the field. He’s certainly somebody who will be easy to pull for and has the game to be one of those unique and special stories that happen every year.

CHIP SHOTS: Julia Suits, the Austin-based artist whose proposal to upgrade the Babe Zaharias figure on the front of the Zaharias Museum in Beaumont, has come back with a second option for those who would like to see more than Babe poised to throw the javelin.

This idea, addressing Babe’s versatility, depicts Zaharias as a golfer, a basketball player and throwing the javelin. It is very impressive and figures to prompt spirited debate when some issues involving the Zaharias Foundation are resolved.

Suits, by the way, is a Missouri native and not from Minnesota as incorrectly noted in the space a couple of weeks ago. Ironically, she grew up in Columbia, which is roughly 20 miles from the home of this column’s author . . .

Happy 90th birthday to long-time Southeast Texas golfing icon – Beaumonter Ray Moore. A top amateur for many, many years, and the owner of Idylwild Golf Club for over a quarter century, the retired attorney is one of the most fascinating figures I’ve encountered on the area golf scene.

Ray turns 90 on Thursday.

Entries are being taken in the Zaharias pro shop for one of the area’s longest continuing benefit tournaments. The 26th annual Joe Williamson Memorial Scramble is set for 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25. The format is a 2-person flighted scramble.

Entry fee is $50 per player. Each flight will pay first, second and third place. All tournament proceeds go toward scholarships for students at Nederland and Port Neches-Groves. Call the Zaharias golf shop at 409 722-8286 to enter.

Several demo days and club fittings are set for 5 Under Golf Center in Beaumont in the next few weeks. Cleveland and Srixon are set for Friday, Sept.24th from noon to 5 p.m., Friday, October 29 from noon to 5 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 19 from noon to 5 p.m.

Titleist will be on hand Tuesday, Sept. 14 from noon to 5 p.m., Calloway will host a fitting day at 5 Under from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13 and Cobra is schedule for noon to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29 from noon to 5 p.m.

Call 409 232-0205 to set up an appointment.

Rain severely curtailed Senior Games at Babe Zaharias this past week, with competition limited to the Super Saturday 2 ball, the Wednesday DogFight and a Tuesday, Aug. 31 2 ball.

The Super Saturday 2 ball, which was contested in a par 4 format because of wet conditions, saw the team of James Shipley, Brian Mirabella, Tom Brown and Harrell Guidry score a sweep. They were minus 11 on the front and minus 9 on the back.

In the DogFight, which was also played in a par-4 format with all points counting, the team of Earl Richard, Bob Luttrull, James Trahan and Michael Junot won with 51 points. Placing second with 49 points was the foursome of Joe Gongora, Aubrey Ward, Steve Wisenbaker and Jim Schexnayder.

Closest to the pin winners were Dan Flood (No. 2), Jimmy Cady (No. 7), Curtis Harrington (No. 12, No. 15).

In the Aug. 31 2 ball, the team of Cap Hollier, Gary Fontenot, Troy Touchet and a ghost player won the front with minus 3. On the back, the team of Rick Pritchett, Larry Johnson, Cesar Chavez and Bob West placed first with minus 3.

Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net.