BOB WEST ON GOLF — Aspiring female pros tee off today in Babe Zaharias Open

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, July 20, 2022

From her perch up above, the world’s greatest female athlete must be beaming at how the dream of the late W.L. Pate Jr. has taken off in just the third year of a women’s professional golf tournament at Beaumont Country Club.

The third annual Beaumont Emergency Hospital Babe Zaharias Women’s Open tees off today, boasting by far the largest pursue ($80,000) on the Women’s All-Pro Tour. That’s double what it was last year and 25 percent more than any other WAPT event.

Pate, who succeeded his father as chairman of the Babe Zaharias Foundation and was a relentless advocate on her behalf for years, pushed hard to revive the LPGA event held in her name in the 1960s. Though the WAPT isn’t the LPGA, it’s a stepping-stone for young women who aspire to get there.

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Indeed, last year’s Zaharias-tourney-champ Kaitlyn Papp, who won with a sparkling 15-under-par 273, has earned a spot on the LPGA Tour.

Headlining the field are former Lamar University star Julie Aime, who won the inaugural Zaharias tournament in 2020, and the WAPT’s top two money winners this season – Miranda Wang and Amanda Tan. Wang, from Orlando, and Tan, from Singapore, have each won two of the WAPT’s 12 tournaments in 2022.

Enhancing the local appeal are the last two winners of the Babe Zaharias girls’ High School Player of the Year Award. Makenna Henry of Sour Lake (2020) and Lamar-bound Montana Dileo of LC-M (2021-22) are both in the field on sponsor exemptions. So is another former Lamar star Elodie Chaplet.

The tournament has a state, national and international flavor, with 17 players from Texas, 15 states and 14 countries represented. Singapore leads the foreign contingent with three players, while New Zealand and France have two each. Others hail from Thailand, South Africa, Australia, Colombia, Scotland, Mexico and the Phillipines.

In addition to the W.L. Pate trophy, players will be competing for a first-place check of at least $15,000 in the 72-hole event that concludes Saturday.

Babe won’t be able to attend the check presentation, but she will be there in spirit. So will W.L. Pate and his dad.

CHIP SHOTS: Andrew Landry, after making a swing adjustment to his hip rotation to alleviate shoulder pain that’s plagued him for months, is returning to the PGA Tour for this week’s 3M Classic in Minnesota. Despite the shoulder issue that led to seven missed cuts and a WD in his late eight starts, Landry has an outside shot at the Fed Ex Cup playoffs.

Thanks to a T4 and a T7 in his first four starts of the year, the PNG ex is still No. 161 in Fed Ex cup points. He’ll need strong showings in the 3M and next week’s Wyndham Classic to climb into the top 125.

Chris Stroud, after missing the cut in last week’s Barracuda Classic, is also entered in the 3M. Stroud has nine remaining starts on his medical exemption and needs to reach 400 Fed Ex points to retain his PGA Tour card. He also has the option of playing in the Korn Ferry Tour finals where a top 25 would renew his card.

LCM ex and three-time Babe Zaharias Boys’ Player of the Year winner Jack Burke scored his second hole-in-one July 9 at Marshall’s Lakeside Country Club. Burke, who will be a sophomore at Texas State this fall, sank a 50-degree wedge on the 125-yard sixth hole. Witnesses were Peyton Weems of East Texas Baptist and Colby Dupuis.

Connor Williams of Kingwood was a 10-shot winner in Boys 15-18 at the Southern Texas PGA Junior Tour Bruce Lietzke Classic played at Idylwild GC. Connor posted a five-over 147 on rounds of 74-73. Cade Jeanes of Sour Lake placed second with a 157 (75-82).

Other flight winners included Chase Ion of Sour Lake with a sparkling 136 (66-70) in Boys 13-14, Carmen Pate of League City with a 165 (82-83) in Girls 15-18, Joel Sparks of Huffman (45 in Junior Links Boys 13-14, 9 holes), Grace Dai of Beaumont (55 in Girls Junior Links 13-14, 9 holes) and Liam Kamas of League City (85 in Little Links Boys 11-12, 9- hole red tees).

In Monday’s Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, the team of Joe Gongora, Rufus Reyes, Jeff Rinehart and Charles Leard won the front with minus 1. On the back, the foursome of Ted Freeman, Gary Fontenot, Lee Bertrand and Ron Mistrot placed first with minus 2.

Closest to the pin winners were Ron Mistrot (No. 1, 5 feet, 5 inches), Danny Robbins (No. 7, 12-0), Don MacNeil (No. 12, 1-3) and Dillard Darbonne (No. 15, 11-3).

The Super Saturday 2 ball at Zaharias saw the team of Joe Gongora, Rufus Reyes, Dan Harrington and Ron Hicks win the front with minus 3. That was also the winning score on the back for the team of Mike Brown, Rusty Hicks, J.B. Ray and Stewart Ellis.

All points count was the format for the Wednesday Zaharias DogFight. Placing first with 28 points was the team of Ed Holley, MacNeil, Jake Selensky and Dan Flood. Second with 24 points was the foursome of Gongora, Eddie Delk, Brian Grant and Darbonne.

Closest to the pin winners were Flood (No. 2), Reyes (No. 7), Ron LaSalle (No. 12) and Holley (No. 15).

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