BOB WEST — Astros provide interesting baseball, golf mixture

Published 12:12 am Thursday, November 10, 2022

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What better time to mix golf and baseball than the sweet afterglow of the Astros second World Series championship and the buildup to a Houston Open likely saved from extinction four years ago by team owner Jim Crane.

The above is especially noteworthy since the tentacles reach all the way to a Southeast Texas foundation that help families offset the cost of debilitating diseases through a dynamite auction. A top item for the Grant’s Guardians auction this year is a bat signed by one Jeremy Pena.

Originally the bat, donated in July by Brian Bridgeman of Energy Metals in Houston, was going to be a nice little item for the silent auction. Four months, a Pena gold glove, ALCS MVP Award and World Series MVP trophy later it has moved into next month’s live auction, with the price escalating by the minute.

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“It’s unbelievable,” says Jeremy Grant. “Brian donates to us every year. When he offered the Pena bat in July, I was happy to get it. But who could have imagined what was ahead for him. I have no idea what that bat is going to bring, but I do know Pena collectibles are soaring.”

While the bat will now be sold at the foundation’s Tacky Sweater Christmas Party on Dec. 10, bids can be made starting this week on the Grant Guardians Facebook page. If you have questions about the bat or other auction items call (409) 960-2121.

Grant’s Guardians, by the way, has raised over $450,000 since 2015 and provided Christmas gifts for 120 children and Christmas dinner for 50 families. This year’s beneficiary is 10-year-old Branson Shaw who is suffering from a still unknown and extremely painful disease that has had him at Texas Children’s Hospital for an extended period.

Knowing Jim Crane’s well-deserved reputation for being a servant leader, and the kind of first class, caring young guy Pena seems to be, you have to think they would be thrilled to know about the Astros- influenced contribution to Shaw.

Meanwhile, Crane, as he soaks in the well-earned dynasty talk about his baseball franchise, has to be pleased with the field this week’s Houston Open has attracted, despite a difficult date. World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler tops a lineup that boasts 27 of the top 100, including No. 12 Sam Burns, No. 15 Tony Finau and No. 19 Hidecki Matsuyama.

PNG grad Chris Stroud and Lamar ex MJ Daffue will also be trying to go low on the revamped Memorial Park layout that will be hosting the Houston Open for the third time. Interestingly, 2021 champ Jason Kokrak, as a LIV defector, was not invited back.

Going forward, as the PGA Tour makes sweeping changes to fight off LIV poaching, mid-level events like the Houston Open are in some jeopardy. Change starts next year, with fall tournaments losing some of the lesser stature they have due to a diminished role in Fed Ex points.

That fact of life is why Crane and the Astros Golf Foundation is so important to the Houston Open. The event desperately needs to get back into the main portion of the PGA Tour schedule with a spring date. Crane may well have the guile and the clout to get it done.

Mattress Mack, I’m guessing, would bet heavily on it.

CHIP SHOTS: PN-G ex Andrew Landry missed his second cut in four 2022-23 starts last week at Mayakoba after shooting rounds of 71-75. Daffue made the cut with 69-69 but faded to 72-72 on the weekend to finish T66 and earn $17,384.

A rough day off the tee plagued Orangefield senior Xander Parks in last week’s Houston Open pre-qualifier but he rebounded strongly with a third-place finish in the Texas Junior Golf Tour’s Bearcat Shootout at Ravens Nest in Huntsville. Parks shot 72-77 in Boys 15-18 . . .

Parks’ younger brother, Lincoln, a sophomore, shot rounds of 81-73 to place 14th. A third Orangefield player, Reese Johnson, shot 84-75 . . .

Jack Mitrovich of League City fired a four-over-par 76 to win Boys 15-18 in the final STPGA Junior Tour fall tourney at Idylwld Golf Club. The Livingston duo of Brandon Munson and Tucker Cherry and Houston’s Jayk Altic tied for second with 79.

Other Junior Tour winners included Jackson Sledzik of Needville (79 in Boys 13-14) and Reed Rodriguez of Sienna Plantation (79 in Boys 11-12).

On the girls’ side, Kentyn Clark of Huffman won 15-18 with a 94, Mackenzie Minshew of The Woodlands took 13-14 with an 84 and Kaitlin Krew of Bellaire was the winner in 11-12 with an 85.

In Junior Links competition, Daniel Gonzalez of Spring placed first in Boys 15-18 with a 62, while Grace Dai of Beaumont took Girls 13-14 with a 56.

Winners in Little Linksters included Rolando Laurenzo of Houston (40 in Boys 11-12, 9-hole red tees), Carolyn Liu of Katy (36 in Girls 11-12, 9-hole red), Hayes Rogers of Spring (38 in Boys 9-10, 9-hole modified), Chloe Magwe (39 in Girls 9-10, 9-hole modified) and Dominic Laurenzo of Houston (41 in Co-ed 6-8, 9-hole modified) . . .

The Monday Senior 50-plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias was played in a par 4 format because of wet conditions. Tying the front and winning the back at minus 11 was the team of Bob West, Don MacNeil, Rick Pritchett and Raymond Darbonne.

Also minus 11 on the front was the foursome of James Vercher, Lee Bertrand, Charles Leard and Dan Flood. Closest to the pin winners were Jim Cady (No. 2), Bertrand (No. 7), Lonnie Mosley (No.12 and Pritchett (No. 15).

The Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was played in an all-points-count format. Winning with 23 points was the team of Ted Freeman, Harrell Guidry, John House and Jess McPhillips. Second with 21 points was the team of Ed Holley, MacNeil, Gary Fontenot and Dale Carter.

Closest to the pin winners were Ron LaSalle (No. 2, 2 feet, 6 inches), Roy Martinez (No. 7, 13-4), Gary Whitfill (No. 12, 5-2) and James Johnson (No. 15, 6-11).

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