BOB WEST ON GOLF — Stroud’s late Korn Ferry push fizzled after long rain delay

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Unfortunately for Chris Stroud, there was no rainbow with a PGA Tour card awaiting after a three-hour weather delay in the fourth round of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals Sunday in Indiana.

Stroud, after rounds of 68, 69, 67, looked poised to reclaim a tour card seemingly slipping away after the first two tournaments in the KFT Finals. Three strong rounds at Victoria National had put him back in the mix for one of the cards that would go to the top 25 overall finishers.

The PNG ex was knocking on the door in 27th place after 54 holes. Hopes quickly soared when he birdied the first hole after waiting out the lengthy rain stoppage. Bogeys on both of the front 9 par 5s, however, were a gut punch that couldn’t be overcome.

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Despite four birdies, he’d sign for a 73, finish T26 in the tournament and slip to 48h in cumulative KFT points. It would have taken a 68 to get the job done.

So now the Port Neches-Groves ex, after 14 consecutive years on the PGA Tour, is staring into the abyss. He has seven tournaments remaining on a medical exemption to earn the number of points that would have gotten him into 125th place in Fed Ex Cup points this past season.

If that doesn’t happen, Stroud is looking at some hard choices, none of them really appealing when you are 40 and dealing with physical issues. He could try to play his way back going up against rising young talent on the KFT next season or spend the year trying to Monday qualify and get sponsor exemptions on the PGA Tour.

Chris, as this is written, is mapping out his schedule for the remainder of the 2022 calendar year. The PGA Tour’s new season, believe it or not, starts next Thursday with the Fortinet Classic in Napa Valley, California. By the end of November, there will have been six other tournament opportunities.

Factoring into the scheduling decision is the fact Stroud played by far his best tournament of the year last week, as some key stats reflected. He was right at the top in driving accuracy, strokes gained off the tee and greens in regulation. But much of it was undone by greens that were slowed by Sunday’s soaking rains.

Though weary from pushing himself hard the past several weeks, the current state of his game may well nudge him to keep playing.

Another reason Stroud needs to consider several of the fall stops is that nearly all the top players will be taking time off. With the PGA Tour mandating its highest-ranking players participate in 17 designated tournaments, competition in the fall will be somewhat watered down.

After next week’s Fortinet, his options include Jackson, Mississippi, Las Vegas, Bermuda, Mayakoba, Houston and Sea Island, Georgia. Stroud, if his game remains as sharp as it was in the KFT Tour Championship, could make waves in any of those.

It’s probably his best shot to pile up a bunch of Fed Ex Cup points and pull off a Hail Mary on a PGA Tour card.

CHIP SHOTS: With Stroud’s status up the air, MJ Daffue is the only Lamar ex assured of playing the PGA Tour full time in 2022-23. Daffue, though he missed the cut in Indiana, earned his card during the KFT regular season and wound up sixth in cumulative points.

Meanwhile, Dawie van der Walt, who had earned a PGA Tour card through the KFT a year ago, lost it with a mediocre performance during the season and coming up short in the KFT Finals. He shot 279 in the Indiana tourney to place T39 and was 43rd in cumulative points.

Van der Walt made only seven cuts in 25 PGA Tour starts and managed just one top 25.

In the Memorial Day Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, played in par 4 format because of wet conditions, the team of Kenny Robbins, Joe Gongora, Lonnie Mosley and Stewart Ellis won the front with minus 11.

Taking the back with minus 10 was the foursome of Ron LaSalle, Ted Freeman, Don MacNeil and Harrell Guidry. Closest to the pin winners were Gongora (No. 2, 6-0), Robbins (No. 7, 3-6), LaSalle (No. 12, 12-2 and Mike Brown (No. 15, 8-11).

The Super Saturday 2 ball at Zaharias saw the team of James Shipley, Gene Jones, Rick Pritchett and Guidry win the front with minus 2. Minus 2 was also the winning score on the back for the team of Doug LeBlanc, Derrick Wolf, Rusty Hicks and George Adams.

The Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was played in a par 4 format, with all points counting. Placing first with 49 points was the team of Mike Brown, Freeman, Art Turner and a ghost player. Taking second with 46 points was the foursome of Jim Cady, Gongora, Rufus Reyes and Jeff Rinehart.

Closest to the pin winners were Hicks (No. 2, 9 inches), Turner (No. 7, 8-4), LaSalle (No. 12, 4-3) and Dale Carter (No. 15, 3-3).

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