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Stroud, pros pitch in at Texas charity event for hurricane victims

December 14, 2017

HOUSTON -- When devastating Hurricane Harvey and the resulting floods hit the Houston and Southeast Texas area this fall, World Golf Hall of Famer Mark O’Meara didn’t have to turn on the TV or check the Internet to see the destruction. All he had to do was go a half-mile down from his Houston home to see the flooding in person.

“When it first happened, I didn’t know what to do,” O’Meara said. “With a storm this big, the healing and hope won’t happen overnight, but this will certainly help.”

That’s why O’Meara joined more than a dozen PGA TOUR players -- including event organizers and Houston residents Chris Stroud and Bobby Gates -- to hold the Texas-sized Hurricane Harvey Relief charity tournament at Bluejack National Golf Club on Tuesday, with the goal to raise $1 million.

With the PGA TOUR and players over-arching goal to serve as a charity conduit to help others, along with the Lone Star theme of “Everything is Bigger in Texas,” the two-day celebration that included a dinner and charity auction turned out to be quite a celebration of help and hope, surpassing the financial goal with $1.2 million raised.

Stroud, who has been calling on his professional golfing friends to help for more than two months, said the devastation in his hometown served as the perfect reminder of people in need after his most successful seasons in 12 years as a PGA TOUR pro.

“It was a huge reality check,” said Stroud, who collected his first PGA TOUR win in 2017 and earned more than $2 million in prize money. “The first thing I thought of when the hurricane hit was this could have been me or somebody in our family.”

“The great thing is we can use our platform to raise money for our community. God has given us a talent and a platform to help others and this is our chance to do this for neighbors and friends.”

Among players taking part in the day-long event at the first Tiger Woods-designed course in the U.S. were World Golf Hall of Fame member and former Masters winner Ben Crenshaw, PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker, U.S. Open winner Hale Irwin, Ryder Cup veteran Patrick Reed and dozens of other players from the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions along with the LPGA, all with a strong Texas connection.

The Houston Golf Association, which operates the Houston Open, along with Bluejack National management also stepped forward to help.

“’I’m very proud to be a Texan. We had great friends who were in danger here,” Colleyville’s Ryan Palmer said. “With the chance to give back to fellow Texans, we have great friends, great events and great players to help out.

“I want to see the impact of my work and what my work is doing. With the event being this close to home, I was happy to help. It was a no-brainer.”

Fort Worth’s J.J. Henry said the outpouring of support for the Hurricane Harvey relief was part of the TOUR’s ongoing efforts to help others through a wide variety of charity programs.

“I’m not sure everyone knows that the TOUR gives more money away to charity than all the other pro sports combined,” Henry said. “As Texas pro golfers, we are willing to do what we can to help out. It’s just the TOUR family coming together and being willing to help out.”

“My wife grew up in Houston and while this didn’t affect our life personally, it really hit home with some of the people we know. The reality hit home, what can we do and what needs to be done here?”

Along with some of his fellow TOUR competitors pitching in to help out at the Bluejack National course, Stroud also called on his good friend, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, to come in and aid the cause.

At Monday night’s pro-am pairings party, Crane delivered the Astros World Series Trophy, which was on prominent display for photos and visits. He also donated his private jet for a foursome to fly to his golf course in Florida, The Floridian, and brought a signed Astros Jersey from American League MVP winner Jose Altuve, which was one of the more coveted items in the silent auction.

There was a wide variety of autographed memorabilia donated from the various golfers in the field along with a unique package with a two-person lesson and lunch with Bluejack course designer Woods.

The silent and live auction raised nearly $600,000 -- including $210,000 for the unique lesson and lunch with Woods.

While the news cycle has moved on to other disasters and other stories, Stroud, who grew up in the Port Arthur area, went to school at Lamar University in Beaumont and now lives in North Houston, said the need is still great for many in his home area.

“I know people who lost everything, who couldn’t afford basic needs. We were fortunate, but not everybody was,” he said.

“I want to be able to look myself in the mirror and see what I am doing to help,” Palmer added.

While the chore of collecting all the money could take weeks, and Stroud is preparing for his 2018 playing schedule, he said he’s already looking forward to the day when the money raised can be distributed to those in his area who can best use it.

“My ultimate goal is to write 40 checks for $25,000 each to those who need it most,” he said. “I know there will be tears from people who receive them and I will be one of the ones crying as well.”

READ MORE ABOUT: Chris Stroud , Disaster Relief
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