BOB WEST ON GOLF — New LPGA format bites Lamar ex Julie Aime

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Once upon a time, way back when Port Neches-Groves ex Chris Stroud was trying to secure a PGA Tour card coming out of Lamar, the only way to get one was through a most grueling test of talent, will and nerves called PGA Tour Q School.

A mixture of veterans and young players had to navigate their way through two stages just to reach the final torture test. That last stop featured 164 players battling for 40 cards over 108 holes. That’s right 108 holes, or 36 more than a normal tournament.

Anyone who has played much golf can imagine the ebb and flow, the good and bad breaks, the mental taxing that transpires over six such highly competitive rounds with so much at stake. Ever year there would be horror stories over how players succumbed to the pressure at some point.

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Stroud, almost miraculously, made it through Q School in 2006, 2007, and 2008, finishing, 16th, 3rd and 4th, respectively. He had to keep going back because he didn’t finish high enough on the money list to retain his card. But once under the gun he was amazingly good.

The PGA Tour has long since done away with the 108-hole Q school, but now along comes the LPGA with an even more Draconian method of earning one’s spurs. And one of the first victims was Lamar ex Julie Aime.

Partially because the pandemic shut things down in 2020, the LPGA came up with a wicked test that involved two preliminary stages, then back-to-back 72 hole tournaments played over the past two weeks in Alabama. The low 70 and ties moved on with their scores after week 1, then the top 45 and ties grabbed a tour card after week 2.

Aime, who won the inaugural Babe Zaharias Open in 2020, made it through the first week on the number and was well within the top 45 through three rounds last week. Then she stumbled to a closing 75 and wound up on the outside looking in by three strokes. For 144 holes, she stood at one-under-par 143.

Aime’s consolation prize is entry into a half dozen LPGA events in 2022. Other than that, she will spend most of her time on the Symetra Tour and no doubt thinking of what might have been.

CHIP SHOTS: Congratulations to 5 Under Golf CEO Austin Williams. The former Lamar and USL player, and frequent Beaumont City champion, has been named the new Junior Golf Director of the STPGA’s Golden Triangle chapter.

Williams is also expected to play a major role, as the Babe Zaharias Foundation reorganizes after the passing of W.L. Pate Jr.

There was a two-way tie at the top in the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias. Posting even par was the team of Ted Freeman, Lee Bertrand, Lonnie Mosley and Jerry Watson and the team of Dwayne Morvant, Don MacNeil, Raymond Darbonne and Larry Foster.

Winning the back with minus 1 was the team of Earl Richard, Ron Mistrot, Bob Luttrull and a ghost player.

In the Friday, Dec. 10 2 ball at Zaharias, the team of Freeman, Bob Byerly, Harrell Guidry and Dwayne Benoit won the front with minus 1. On the back, the foursome of Richard, Steve Wisenbaker, Brad Royer and Foster prevailed at plus 1.

Closest to the pin winners were Rick Pritchett (No. 2), Joe Gongora (No. 7), Byerly (No. 12) and Wisenbaker (No. 15).

The Thursday, Dec. 9 2 ball saw the team of Freeman, Jim Cady, Guidry and Richard Menchaca take the front with minus 2 and tie the back at minus 1. Also minus 1 on the back was the team of James Shipley, Cap Hollier, MacNeil and Mosley.

All points count was the format for the Wednesday, Dec. 8 Zaharias DogFight. Tying for first with 22 points was the team of Wisenbaker, Pritchett, Royer and Benoit and the foursome of Hollier, John House, Mosley and Paul Duplantis.

Closest to the pin winners were Pritchett (No. 2), James Vercher (No. 7), Wisenbaker (No. 12) and Cady (No. 15).

In the Monday, Dec. 6 Senior 50 Plus 2 ball, the team of Bill Hanley Gerald Huebel, MacNeil and Dan Flood won the front with even par. On the back, the team of Kenny Robbins, Rusty Hicks, Pritchett and Foster claimed the back with minus 1.

The Wednesday, Dec. 1 Dogfight was played in an all points count format. Placing first with 28 points was the team of Mike Brown, Pritchett, Rufus Reyes and Charles Perez.

Closest to the pin winners were James Johnson (No. 2), Art Turner (No. 7), Richard (No. 12) and Reyes (No. 15).

Three players from the Southeast Texas Junior Tour – Jeremy Blackwell (Boys 15-18), Erin Eaves (Girls 11-12) and Reece Williams (Boys 11-12) — qualified for the Southern Texas PGA Championships at Horseshoe Bay this past weekend. Williams, the only player to participate, tied for 15th.

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