Etulain holds five shot lead at Open
BROUSSARD — The way Julian Etulain is playing, he may not only be the wire-to-wire winner of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by NACHER, but he lap the field in the process.
Following up a bistering 9-under 62 on Thursday with a one-under 70 on Friday, the Argentine fired a 5-under 66 Saturday to build a comfortable five shot lead over second place Ben Kohles and Max Homa (each at 10-under 203).
“He obviously has a massive advantage,” said Homa. “He’s really playing well so it’s going to be hard to catch him.”
Despite windy conditions for the second straight day, Etulain has been burning up the course. He five birdies in an eight hole stretch Saturday and could have had more if not for a run of six straight pars to end the round.
About the only thing that has gone wrong for Etulain is the fact that his run of bogey free holes at Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club ended Friday at 62 with a bogey on the 13th.
“I hit a lot of good drivers, a lot of good second shots and the putter this week, it’s amazing,” said Etulain. “I don’t know why but it’s amazing. I’m feeling really good with it these few days.”
The Argentine added that he started marking his ball this week with a line to help his putting.
“I’ve never used that and I started this week,” he said. “Maybe that’s the difference. I talked with my caddie and he said, OK, let’s try it and see what happens.”
Etulain’s lead is the second largest 54 hole lead in the 27-year history of the Louisiana Open and could have tied the record margin if not for a missed six-foot putt for birdie on the 18th.
Kohles started his round with four birdies in his first seven holes, then parred the rest of the way for a 67 which followed his back-to-back 68′s Thursday and Friday.
“It was nice to get off to that start after the last couple of days,” said Kohles. “You have to take advantage of this course on the front nine, especially with the wind we have this week.
“You have three apr 5′s in the first seven holes, the closing mid-stretch can play pretty tough and the last stretch you get a little downwind.”
Homa hit out-of-bounds on the first hole and ended up with a double-bogey, but rallied with four birdies to finish at one-under 70 to go with a pair of 68′s Thursday and Friday.
“That’s about a bad a start as you can get off to,” he said. “It’s obviously going to be hard with the wind but that’s the last thing you want to do, play the one of the easier holes that poorly. But somehow I righted the ship and played really, really well.”
Taylor Moore and Curtis Luck are tied for fourth place at 9-under then there is a logjam of eight players at 8-under
The Louisiana contingent at the Open are playing well after three rounds.
Sam Burns had his third straight 69 and is at 6-under and Grady Barnes, Jr. fired an even-par 71 and is at 5-under.
The duo are in the top 25 of the leaderboard and if they stay there after today’s final round, they will be automatically in the field at next week’s Savannah Golf Championship.
Another windy day is expected for the final round which begins at 7:30 a.m. with the leaders teeing off at 1:30 p.m.