Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS week begins March 15
Korn Ferry Tour event features $600,000 largest purse in tournament history
BROUSSARD – It has been Acadiana’s premier professional sports event for nearly three decades, and the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS will once again bring high-level professional golf to South Louisiana’s annual rite of spring.
For the 29th year, the Korn Ferry Tour returns to Le Triomphe Golf & Country Club beginning Sunday, March 15, with the finals of the Cypress Bayou Casino & Hotel $1 Million Hole-in-One Challenge. Practice rounds begin the following Monday afternoon as a field of 144 professionals takes aim at a tournament-record $600,000 purse. More importantly for the Korn Ferry Tour field, success at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open provides the opportunity for advancement to the PGA Tour in the near future.
Championship competition begins Thursday, March 19, over the 7,061-yard par-71 Le Triomphe layout, with the final round of the 72-hole event set for Sunday, March 22, when one winner will receive an all-time-high $108,000 first-place check.
There’s a new look to this year’s Korn Ferry Tour (previously known as the Web.com Tour), with the Louisiana Open being the seventh top of the Tour’s 28-tournament schedule. The Tour has already conducted six events including five international tournaments in The Bahamas, Panama, Colombia and Mexico sandwiched around the Tour’s first U.S. stop at the mid-February LECOM Suncoast Classic in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.
However, the Tour will have two idle weeks since its last event, that one the El Bosque Mexico Championship by INNOVA, and the start of the local event. In addition, the Louisiana Open will be the first of a two-tournament Louisiana swing for Korn Ferry Tour players, with the inaugural Lake Charles Championship scheduled the following week on March 23-29.
Louisiana Open executive director Danny Jones said the combination of the Tour being off for two weeks and having a second nearby tournament immediately after the local event will guarantee one of the strongest fields of the entire 2020 Korn Ferry Tour schedule.
“We’re going to have a really strong field because of that scheduling,” Jones said. “But that’s not anything unusual. we know that’s always going to be the case since the tour players love coming here. They love the hospitality, they love the course and they love the fact that we can usually play here in mid-March without a lot of weather concerns.”
The Korn Ferry Tour has already given away almost $3.8 million in prize money in its first six stops, and five of this year’s first six winners – Jared Wolfe at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic, Davis Riley at the Panama Championship, Mito Pereira at the Country Club de Bogota Championship in Colombia, Andrew Novak at the LECOM Suncoast Classic and David Kocher at last week’s El Bosque Mexico Championship – are first-time Tour winners.
The only previous Tour champion to win this season is a familiar name to golf fans, with Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey winning at the season-opening The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic. Gainey is a three-time Korn Ferry Tour winner and won the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic in 2012.
Most of this year’s previous winners are expected to be in the Louisiana Open field when that listing is announced on Friday, March 13. Traditionally, the field includes dozens of players who have won on the Korn Ferry Tour and several who have found the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour, but most of the field will be looking to use the Tour as a proving ground and a springboard to a full-time spot on the PGA Tour.
That’s what 2016 Chitimacha Louisiana Open champion Wesley Bryan, who followed his 14-under-par 270 winning score here by winning two more times on the Korn Ferry Tour and earning the immediate “Battlefield Promotion” to the PGA Tour. Bryan was the Tour’s Player of the Year and the leading money winner for the 2016 season, and less than a year later he won on the PGA Tour when he captured the 2017 RBC Heritage title.
Bryan is also expected to return to play in the Louisiana Open, returning to competitive golf after a 14-month layoff following shoulder surgery. Bryan, one of the most popular of all the previous Louisiana Open winners, is on a major medical exemption on the PGA Tour and is tuning up his game on this year’s early-season Korn Ferry Tour schedule
This year’s field hopes to find the score-friendly Le Triomphe layout to their liking as much as Casey Wittenberg, who became the Louisiana Open’s second-ever two-time winner three years ago. Also a popular performer locally given his family’s Louisiana background, Wittenberg put up a strong four-round 65-64-65-69—263 total for the second-lowest 72-hole score in tournament history in 2017 – behind only his record 260 score in 2012. The only other player to win the Louisiana Open twice was former U.S. Ryder Cup player and 2006 Byron Nelson Championship winner Brett Wetterich.
Two years ago, Argentina’s Julian Etulain insured his return for a second stint on the PGA Tour by capturing the Open title by a two-stroke margin, and is playing the Korn Ferry Tour schedule to try to earn a third trip to the “big” tour. 2019 champion Vince Covello is currently plying his trade on the PGA Tour, as are many Korn Ferry Tour alumni – four out of every five PGA Tour members are alumni of the Korn Ferry Tour, and Korn Ferry Tour alumni have won 548 events in PGA Tour history.
“That’s the beauty of this tournament,” Jones said. “You see somebody playing here and having success, and by this time next year you see a guy like Wesley Bryan playing in major Tour events. You see a guy like Casey who has so many connections to Louisiana and loves this tournament, and players like Julian and Vince who have so much talent and are just waiting for that breakthrough win.”
The Louisiana Open is one of only three PGA Tour-sanctioned events in Louisiana along with the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and next week’s Lake Charles event, and has been a part of the Korn Ferry Tour since 1992. Only four events have been on the Tour schedule longer, and Le Triomphe shares honors as the third-longest host course on Tour. Daily tickets for the tournament are $10 and are available until the day before the tournament at the Louisiana Open’s remote office next to the Le Triomphe clubhouse, and at the gate beginning Thursday. Skybox passes are available for $65 and clubhouse passes are $40 and are good for the entire tournament.
Tournament activities begin Sunday, March 15, with the finals of the Cypress Bayou Casino & Hotel $1 Million Hole-in-One Shootout at 3:30 p.m. at Le Triomphe’s treacherous 8th hole. Approximately 40 qualifiers will take one shot at a $1 million prize for a hole-in-one, with those spots earned through qualifying events at courses across Acadiana over a two-week period prior to the Open.
The Lourdes Legacy Tournament is set for 9 a.m. on Monday of tournament week with practice rounds scheduled for the field beginning Monday afternoon. Monday also features a Kickoff Bash featuring musical group Three Thirty Seven at 7 p.m. at The Madison facility in Broussard.
Practice rounds continue Tuesday, along with the FCA’s 4 p.m. Junior Gameday sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (register at www.fcagolf.org/gameday) and the Eat Lafayette “Taste of the South” party featuring Dustin Sonnier beginning at 7 p.m. at Parc International in downtown Lafayette. The First National Bank of Jeanerette Pro-Am and the Dwight Andrus Insurance Room Pro-Am are at 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Practice rounds and the pro-ams are open to the public at no charge, and tickets to the Monday and Tuesday social events are available by contacting the Open office at (337) 593-8000.
Play will begin at approximately 7:30 a.m. Thursday and Friday, March 19-20, with 128 players locked into the field courtesy of their Tour status and results of this year’s first six tournaments, and four players who have sponsor exemptions. Twelve more spots will be filled by open qualifying Monday at Oak Wing Golf Club and Links on the Bayou in Alexandria. The field will be cut to the low 65 and ties for the final two rounds.
The Korn Ferry Tour is the official “Path to the PGA Tour,” and this year PGA Tour cards will be awarded to the top 25 finishers on the regular-season points list. Another 25 PGA Tour cards will be awarded through the three-event Korn Ferry Tour finals in August, events that bring together the top 75 players on the Tour’s points list and players ranked Nos. 126-200 on the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings.
In addition to bringing championship golf to South Louisiana, the Louisiana Open is also one of Acadiana’s biggest supporters of local and regional charities. More than $5 million has been raised for charities and youth groups in the tournament’s 28-year history, and nearly 50 charities and groups are involved and will benefit from this year’s event.
“Our job is to put on a golf tournament,” Jones said, “but our mission and the reason we’re here is to help our community. There are so many groups that help us put on the event here for a couple of weeks, but those groups are out there doing great work all year long. It makes it very special for us when we can help them, and the Open makes that possible.”
TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (events at Le Triomphe unless otherwise indicated)
Friday, March 6
Hole-in-One Qualifying, Les Vieux Chenes Golf Course, beginning 7 a.m.
Saturday, March 7
Hole-in-One Qualifying, The Farm d’Allie Golf Club, time TBA
Sunday, March 8
Hole-in-One Qualifying, The Wetlands, beginning 7 a.m.
Friday, March 13
Hole-in-One Qualifying, Oakbourne Country Club, time TBA
Saturday, March 14
Hole-in-One Qualifying, Le Triomphe Golf Club, beginning 9 a.m.
Sunday, March 15
Cypress Bayou Casino & Hotel $1 Million Hole-in-One Finals, 3:30 p.m., 8th hole
Monday, March 16
Lourdes Legacy Tournament, 9 a.m.
Player practice rounds, afternoon following Lourdes tournament
Tournament Kickoff Bash sponsored by Cypress Bayou Casino & Hotel, 7 p.m., The Madison
Tuesday, March 17
Player practice rounds, all day
FCA Junior Gameday sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Louisiana, 4 p.m.
“Eat Lafayette” Taste of the South party, 7 p.m., Parc International downtown
Wednesday, March 18
First National Bank of Jeanerette Pro-Am, 8 a.m. shotgun start
Dwight Andrus Insurance Pro-Am, 1:30 p.m. shotgun start
Thursday, March 19
Championship First Round, approximately 7:30 a.m.
Friday, March 20
Championship Second Round, approximately 7:30 a.m. (field cut to low 65/ties)
Saturday, March 21
Championship Third Round, time TBA
Sunday, March 22
Championship Final Round, time TBA
Trophy and check presentations, 18th green following final round
- < PREV Ragin' Cajuns freshman Mylik Wilson among Sun Belt postseason basketball awards honorees
- NEXT > Tulane resumes baseball rivalry with Southern Jaguars this weekend