BOB WEST ON GOLF — Injuries continue to raise questions for Stroud, Landry

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Almost exactly three years ago – July 14, 2019 – the Port Neches-Groves duo of Andrew Landry and Chris Stroud delivered their best ever collective finish in a PGA Tour event. Landry, who held the 54-hole lead, finished outright third in the John Deere Classic. Stroud was close behind at T4.

The future seemingly couldn’t have looked rosier for a pair of Pea Patch alums who had overcome long odds to get where they were. Based on the strong showing in the Deere, there was every reason to think the arrow was pointing up for Southeast Texas’ favorite golfing sons.

Indeed, there would be some good days ahead, but clouds in the form of lingering injuries are now leaving question marks over the future of both players. Ironically, it sort of came to a head at the latest John Deere.

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Stroud, competing for the first time since late February and only the 14th time in the last two years, played surprising well only to be sabotaged by poor putting. He missed the cut after rounds of 71-70 and walked away coping with some physical issues.

Landry, whose first start in three months last week in the Travelers had stirred hope with a second-day 67, quickly took a step back in the Deere by opening with a 77. He appeared to be rebounding with four birdies on the way to a first nine 34 on Friday, then abruptly withdrew because of ongoing shoulder problems.

Both had planned to play this week, but Landry says he is definitely out of the Barbasol Classic being played in Kentucky. Stroud, because of how well he hit the ball at the John Deere, wants to tee it up but was waffling early in the week. His heart says yes. His pain and judgment say no.

“It’s going to be a last-minute decision,” he said Monday. “Every week looks like a last-minute decision. Despite the layoff, I am hitting the ball as well as I ever have. If I had putted halfway decent – he was No. 118 in strokes gained putting – I would have been in the mix. I know I can fix the putting.”

Especially encouraging for Stroud, who has made just two cuts in those 14 starts since mid-July 2020, was that neither his lower back nor his recently surgically repaired left wrist bothered him. But there was a lot of pain in his left shoulder – residual pain he says from the wrist surgery – that became more and more uncomfortable.”

“To be honest, I just don’t know,” he said. “I don’t have to be in a rush to play. I have 11 starts left on my medical and can use them next season. I also have the option of trying to secure my tour card in the Korn Ferry Finals. It’s probably not the smartest thing for me to play. On the other hand, if I putt well I believe I can contend.”

That, of course, is contingent on a body part not breaking down.

Landry, meanwhile, is back home in Austin doing some soul searching while trying to figure out the next step. The two-under 34 on his first nine Friday looked good on the scorecard but took a toll in shoulder pain that he is no longer willing to endure.

“I was just in so much pain it was not smart to try to fight through it,” he said. “I knew I was going to miss the cut, so why punish myself further. I was hurting on every swing. I need to find out why and see what can be done.”

Landry’s first step was for him and his caddie to spend considerable time on Saturday doing intense video study of his swing at various points in his career. One of the conclusions was there’s a problem with hip rotation that puts stress on his shoulders.

“I am sort of at a crossroads,” he said. “My body hurts so bad the game I love isn’t fun. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about retiring. But I believe there are some answers and I just have to find them. I will be getting with a trainer and doing a lot of soft tissue stuff, and also having a chiropractor work on me. The goal is to play at the 3M in Minnesota in two weeks.”

Complicating comebacks for both Stroud and Landry is Father Time. Stroud is 40, Landry is about to turn 35. That’s young in life but old in a PGA Tour dynamic that includes a relentless flood of young talent.

CHIP SHOTS: An opportunity to play Beaumont Country Club triggered the biggest turnout of the season in a Southern Texas PGA Junior Tour event last Monday. Luke Tortorice of Beaumont shot a one-under-par 71 to edge Julian Matthews of Beaumont by a shot in Boys 15-18.

In other Junior Tour flights, Tatum Bean of Groves won easily in Girls’ 15-18 with an 81 and Logan Houl of Diboll took Boys’ 13-14 with a 71. Lumberton’s Annie Whitehead placed first in Junior Links Girls 13-14 with a 9-hole total of 44 and Colby Chandler of Humble took Little Linkers 9-hole Red with a 49.

The Tuesday, June 28 Junior Tour stop at Brentwood Country Club saw Evan Klutts of Port Neches and Jeremy Blackwell of Beaumont tie for first with four-over 76s. Bean won her second title of the week with an 81 in Girls 15-18 and Houl repeated with a 75 in Boys 13-14.

Other results saw Whitehead back up her Beaumont Country Club victory with a 45 in Junior Links Girls 13-14 and Liam Kamas of League City capture Little Linksters Boys 11-12, 9 hole Red with 45.

In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Zaharias Monday, the team of Ed Holley, Gary Fontenot, Roger Koch and Stu Ellis won the front at minus 2. On the back the threesome of Bob West, Don MacNeil and Charles Leard, with the help of a ghost player, placed first at minus 1.

Closest to the pin winners were Ellis (No. 7, 10-7) and Leard (No. 12 12-6).

All points count was the format for the Wednesday Zaharias DogFight. Winner with 26 points was the team of Gary Whitfill, Bobby Wactor Jeff Rinhart and ghost Darrel Mouille. Teams captained by Rusty Hicks, Kenny Robbins and Ron LaSalle tied for second at 25.

Closest to the pin winners were Lonnie Mosley (No. 2, No. 12), MacNeil (No. 7) and Rinehart (No. 15).

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