BOB WEST ON GOLF — Back issues once again threaten Stroud’s career

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, March 9, 2022

One minute Chris Stroud was standing in line at the Orlando airport preparing to check a bag for his flight to Puerto Rico and feeling upbeat about how close he was to turning the corner in his PGA Tour comeback. An instant later he was rolling on the ground in pain, with those around him thinking he’d suffered a heart attack.

A week and a new acupuncture specialist later, the excruciating lower back muscle spasms are just a painful memory. After fearing the Orlando debacle might be the end of his professional golf career, he’s cautiously optimistic there is a path forward. But down deep he knows there are no guarantees.

When you’ve been through the back issues the 40-year-old Stroud has struggled with the past three years, there will always be a nagging fear crippling spasms are just a misstep or a bad swing away. In his mind, he can still see Tiger Woods buckling and going to the ground a few years back during a tournament.

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He’s embraced Dr. Casey Ho’s treatment plan involving acupuncture and two exercises that must be done five times a day. He wants to believe it’s the answer to keeping his glute muscles firing. On the other hand, he’s traveled this road with other doctors and other solutions, only to see it not result in permanent relief.

“I’ve heard it all,” he confided from his home in Houston on Monday. “Everybody I’ve talked to and worked with pretty much have said the same thing. First, I was told the problem was created by scar tissue. I got rid of that, then it was too much inflammation. Then maybe lack of hydration. Perhaps lack of flexibility.

“I was told to do Yoga, to get more flexible, to stay away from heavy weights, to drink lots of water, to take magnesium, to use a lot of Advil when I’m playing or practicing. I have done almost everything you can do without having surgery.”

Through the rollercoaster ride that’s threatened to derail his career, Stroud has remained amazingly resilient. Oh, there have been times of frustration, deep depression and resignation. They are almost always followed by even stronger feelings that he’s going to find a way through it all and become a successful tour player again.

That’s where he is now, after buying in to what Dr. Ho put before him.

“I am going to keep getting back up, going to keep fighting and doing the best I can,” asserts the Port Neches-Groves ex. “Maybe I wouldn’t feel that way if I didn’t truly believe I am the best golfer I’ve ever been. I feel really good about the way I am striking the ball, about everything but my putting.

“The putting was holding me back from having some good results. I am confident I can fix that. When I do, this is going to be a great story about a guy overcoming adversity because he just wouldn’t stay down.”

Thanks to Dr. Ho, Stroud says the process of recovery from his most recent lower back seizures has sped up significantly. He expects to be hitting balls and playing this week. If he can move all the way up from ninth alternate, he plans to return to the tour next week at the Valspar in Tampa. If not, a week later in the Dominican Republic.

Stroud’s PGA Tour playing card hangs in the balance over the next 12 tournaments that he can enter on what is known as a “major medical exemption.” If he doesn’t accumulate 375 Fed Ex Cup points over those 12 starts, then he will basically be on the outside looking in.

“I am capable of getting this done,” he insists. “Don’t write me off. If what Dr. Ho has me doing works, you have not heard the last of Chris Stroud on the PGA Tour.”

Bottom line, it’s all about the glutes. Maybe even more than the putter.

CHIP SHOTS: Southeast Texans fared well in the recent Sam Burns Junior Four Ball played at Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant, Louisiana. LC-M ex Montana Dileo, a Lamar signee, teamed with Mattie Purghan of Lake Charles to win Girls 13-18 with a 148 (73-75) on the second hole of a playoff.

Xander Parks of Orangefield and Landen East of Sulphur tied for 13th out of 32 teams in Boys 15 and Under with a 145 (70-75). Lincoln Parks of Orange and Hayden Boyette of Sulphur placed third in Boys 15 and under with 163 (81-82). Reece Williams of Beaumont and Foster Cecka of Lafayette took 8th in Boys 11-13.

In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, the team of Bill Hanley, Joe Gongora, Rufus Reyes and Larry Johnson won the front with minus 1. Even par won the back for the foursome of Bob West, Rusty Hicks, Rick Pritchett and James Johnson.

Closest to the win winners were Earl Richard (No. 7, 10 feet, 1 inch) and Kenny Robbins (No. 12, 7-5).

The Super Saturday 2 ball saw the team of Kenny Robbins, Danny Robbins, Pritchett and Ron Hicks take the front with minus 4. That was also the winning total on the back for Brian Mirabella, Derrick Wolf, Gary Fontenot and their ghost.

In the Friday 2 ball, there was a 3-way tie at minus 3 on the front between teams captained by Kenny Robbins, Adams Davis and Chad Attaway. The back was won in 3 under by the foursome of Ted Freeman, Gary Fontenot, Harrell Guidry and Larry Foster.

Closest to the pin winners were Cap Hollier (No. 2), Gongora (No. 7) West (No. 12) and Brian Sweeney (No. 15).

The Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was played in a flighted 9-9 partnership of best ball on the front and scramble on the back.

Kenny Robbins teamed with Mike Brown to win 1st flight with a 63. The duo of Art Turner-Rusty Hicks took 2nd flight with a 66. In 3rd flight, Rufus Reyes-Roy Martinez prevailed with a 71. Bill Jones-Gary Anderson claimed 4th flight with a 73.

Closest to the pin winners were Charles Perez (No. 2), Ron Carlin (No. 7), Hollier (No. 12) and Robbins (No. 15)