BOB WEST ON GOLF — Lake Charles is serving up tempting G&G parlay

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Golf and gambling have long gone hand in hand, so there is a unique opportunity upcoming in Lake Charles for anyone interested in watching future PGA players in action, then rolling the dice or playing a little blackjack.

Unfolding Thursday through Sunday is the Korn Ferry Tour’s inaugural Lake Charles Championship being contested over The Country Club at the Golden Nugget. A field of 156 players will be battling it out for a first-place check of $135,000 and a chance to move one step closer to the PGA Tour.

For those who like to watch long balls and lots of birdies, this will be worth a trip across the border. And tickets are only $10. Adding to the attraction will be three players with area ties – West Orang-Stark’s Michael Arnaud and Lamar exes Shawn Stefani and M.J. Daffue.

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This will be the inaugural KFT event played in Lake Charles but only because of unfortunate outside interference. The tourney was scheduled to launch in 2020 but got knocked out by the COVID pandemic. Last year destruction from a couple of hurricanes made it impossible to play golf in the shadow of the Golden Nugget casino.

A tour stop in Lake Charles makes a nice one-two Louisiana punch for the KFT. One of its oldest and most successful events is the Chitimacha Louisiana Open that was played for the 30th time last week in Lafayette. Young golfers squeezing dollars have to be thrilled at the proximity.

For those not familiar with the Korn Ferry, it’s a developmental tour that has been known at various times as the Hogan Tour, the Tour, the Nike Tour and more. With young golf talent literally pouring out of colleges, it’s been an extremely challenging proving ground on the road to the PGA Tour.

This is the route PNG ex Andrew Landry twice took to the PGA Tour and where rising stars like Sam Burns, Will Zalatoris and Carlos Ortiz earned their spurs. At this time in 2023, the top 25 money winners on the KFT will be flaunting a PGA Tour card. So will anybody who wins three times during the 2022 season.

One of the 2021 KFT graduates trying to find his way on the PGA Tour this year is Lamar ex Dawie van der Walt. Baytown’s Stefani, after playing several years on the big tour, is trying to fight his way back on the KFT.

If you love to watch high-caliber golf, a trip to Lake Charles would be hours well spent some time over the next four days. And the dice will be rolling only a few hundred yards away.

CHIP SHOTS: Despite a solid opening round in last week’s Valspar Championship, Andrew Landry’s struggle to make a cut continued. The one-time Arkansas star followed a three-under 68 with a three-over 74 and missed playing the weekend by two shots. It was Landry’s sixth consecutive missed cut.

The injury cloud continues to plague Chris Stroud. Sufficiently recovered from recent back woes, Stroud was in the field for this week’s PGA Tour alternate field event in the Dominican Republic. But a flareup of a wrist injury forced his withdrawal. The former Lamar All-America hopes to play next week in San Antonio.

Next week is a big one for former PN-G and Baylor star Braden Bailey. Without a steady place to play for nearly two years because of COVID fallout, Bailey will be teeing it up in the Mackenzie Tour (PGA Canada) Q school at the Wigwam in Litchfield Park, Arizona.

The 72-hole event runs Tuesday through Friday. Bailey needs to finish top 9 to earn full-time status and top 30 to receive conditional starts. The Mackenzie Tour, a two-year victim of COVID, resumes play in late May, with most of its 2022 events scheduled in Canada.

In the Monday Senior 50 plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias the team of Kenny Robbins, Billy Hanley, Harrell Guidry and Dillard Darbonne overcame gusting winds to take the front at 2 under. Plus 2 was the winning score on the back for the foursome of Jimmy Cady, Danny Robbins, Art Turner and Dan Flood.

Closest to the pin winners were Steve Wisenbaker (No. 2, 3 feet, 5 inches), Lee Bertrand (No. 7, 8’,7”), Joe Gongora (No. 12, 22’, 4’’) and Richard Menchaca (No. 15, 9’, 7”).

Playing in a par 4 format because of wet conditions, the team of Ted Freeman, Gary Fontenot, Roy Martinez and Menchaca won the front in the Friday 2 ball with minus 7. The foursome of Kenny Robbins, Danny Robbins, Tony Trevino and Flood claimed the back with minus 3.

Closest to the pin winners were Cap Hollier (No. 2), Fontenot (No. 7, No 15) and Turner (No. 12).

The Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was also played in the par 4 format, with all points counting. On the front, the team of Bobby Wactor, Fontenot, Flood and a ghost player won with 44. Placing second with 43 points was the team of Mike Brown, Larry Johnson, Bob Luttrull and James Johnson.

Closest to the pin winners were Dillard Darbonne (No. 2), Flood (No. 7), Kenny Robbins (No. 12) and Ron Mistrot (No. 15).

5 Under Golf Center in Beaumont has a Titleist fitting day scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. Thursday, March 31. Those who participate receive a dozen balls. Call 409 232-0205 or 409 291-9988.

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