Roberto Diaz breaks through with first win at Chitimacha Louisiana Open
BROUSSARD, La. – Beginning the day with a two-stroke lead, 34-year-old Roberto Diaz hung on for his first Korn Ferry Tour victory at 18-under 266 at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS. Diaz edged Peter Uihlein by one stroke and Tom Whitney by two strokes at Le Triomphe Golf & Country Club.
“Oh, man, where do I start; it’s been a long road for me,” said an emotional Diaz. “All I could think about on the course is just sustain the moment, it sounds so cliché…you have to stay in the moment…This win means a lot for me, for my family, for my team, for different reasons, not only for the sentimental part of it. But like I told you, the monkey on my back is off. I feel a lot of relief, I feel a lot of weight off me. There’s only one thing that I wanted, it was to win. When my kid came along, I kind of put that off my mind, and now I have two things off my mind now.”
Diaz had increased his advantage to four strokes after an eagle at the par-5 seventh hole, but after a bogey at the 13th, Uihlein had narrowed the gap to one. Uihlein followed that up with a chip-in birdie at the 14th to tie the lead. Both players made pars on Nos. 15 and 16 before Uihlein three-putted at the 17th to drop back to 17-under. Uihlein found the water with his tee shot on 18, and while he was able to save par, the opening was enough for Diaz to comfortably two-putt for the win.
As Diaz walked off the final green, he received FaceTime calls from his wife and fellow pro Abraham Ancer.
“Abe just told me congrats, good playing,” said Diaz. “He knows how hard it’s been for me. It was great. He knows how hard I work, how tough it’s been for me. He’s there with me every day at practice, at the gym, at home, playing, struggling, he’s a great friend. It means a lot to me that he was there with me. Dale, his caddie, he FaceTimed with me last night for an hour. It’s nice for me to do this for them. It’s good.”
Prior to his win, Diaz had been a professional for 13 years and accumulated 193 starts across the PGA TOUR, Korn Ferry Tour and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. He had earned four runner-up finishes in that time (three on Korn Ferry Tour, one on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica), but had never found the winner’s circle.
“Oh, yeah, last event [in contention] I think I lost by six or seven, finished 14th, and I called my putting coach Ramon, he’s been there the whole way, and I said, you know what, I’m never going to win,” reflected Diaz. “I’m just never going to win. I don’t care if I do, if I do it’s going to be great, but I’m never going to win. [told him] I’m not a winner, I’m just out here to make money, it’s my business and I’m going to take it as a business, I’m not going to take it as a competitor. And [now] here I am…Hopefully the second comes soon…I wouldn’t like to play against me now.”
Diaz moves from 22nd to ninth in the Korn Ferry Tour points standings and puts himself in prime position to earn a PGA TOUR card at the end of the season. Diaz graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017 and competed on the PGA TOUR for two seasons before returning to the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020.
In the end, Diaz fired a final-round 68 and parred his final five holes to hold off Uihlein, a 31-year-old Oklahoma State alum.
“Roberto played great, he played solid, there was no chink in the armor today,” said Uihlein after his round. “He was very impressive. I had to make something happen on 12, and was able to execute, and the chip on 14 to get tied. But hats off to Roberto, he played very solid today.”
The Korn Ferry Tour returns next week in Savannah, Georgia, at the Club Car Championship at The Landings Club.
• Sunday’s weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 70 degrees and wind E at 4-8 mph
• Diaz becomes the first Mexican winner on the Korn Ferry Tour since 2018 (Jose de Jesus Rodriguez/United Leasing & Finance Championship); other recent Mexican winners on Tour include Abraham Ancer (2015 Nova Scotia Open) and Carlos Ortiz, who won three times in 2014 to earn his PGA TOUR card; Ortiz became the first Mexican player to win on the PGA TOUR since 1978 when he won the 2020 Vivint Houston Open in November
• Diaz helped his alma mater, the University of South Carolina Aiken, to a Division II national championship as a freshman in 2006; Diaz ranks second on the all-time career scoring average list for USC Aiken at 72.97
• Peter Uihlein made two eagles during his round on Sunday (Nos. 1 & 12), one of just three players this week to tally two eagles in the same round (Carl Yuan/R3, Erik Barnes/R3)
• Jack Maguire (-9, T19) made an albatross at the par-5 first hole on Sunday, the 76th albatross in Korn Ferry Tour history; Maguire also had the most recent albatross on Tour at the 2020 TPC San Antonio Championship at the Oaks (R2/No. 14); the double eagle was the second in tournament history (1992/R.W. Eaks/R2/No. 5)
• Tom Whitney (-16, third) and Harrison Endycott (-14, fifth) each got into the field as alternates during tournament week before posting top-10s, the third of Whitney’s career and the second of Endycott’s; the finishes are a career-high for both players
• Sahith Theegala (-9, T19) birdied his final hole to cap a final-round 66 to leap inside the top-25 in his first career start; with the top-25 finish, Theegala earns entry into next week’s Club Car Championship at The Landings Club; Theegala won the Haskins Award, the Ben Hogan Award and the Jack Nicklaus Award in 2020 to become just the fifth player to win all three in the same season (Patrick Rodgers, Ryan Moore, Bill Haas, Hunter Mahan)
• The Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS was the second event of 2021 and the 25th of the 2020-21 combined season
• This week’s purse was $600,000 with $108,000 going to Diaz. He also receives 500 Korn Ferry Tour points and leaps to ninth in the Korn Ferry Tour standings
• The combined 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour schedule will conclude with 25 PGA TOUR cards awarded in August at the 2021 Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna, with an additional 25 cards awarded at the conclusion of the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals
Final-Round Course Statistics
• Toughest Hole – Par-4 18th (4.189)
• Easiest Hole – Par-5 first (4.378)
• Scoring Average (Front 9) – 34.041
• Scoring Average (Back 9) – 34.459
• Scoring Average (Total) – 68.500
• Scoring Average (Cumulative) – 70.437
SUNDAY CHITIMACHA LOUISIANA OPEN QUOTES
PETER UIHLEIN (runner up, -17)
(on coming back) “I kinda got off to an OK start. Roberto played great, he played solid, there was no chink in the armor today. He was very impressive. I had to make something happen on 12, and was able to execute, and the chip on 14 to get tied. But hats off to Roberto, he played very solid today.”
(on eagle at 12) “I hit 4-iron, I had 247 there. I was aiming at the flag. I was just trying to give myself good looks the last four holes. I had a good look on 15 and left it short, 17 was a three-putt the first one of the week, kind of a bad time but it is what it is. The first putt I just flat out misread it, I didn’t think it was going to break that hard to the right, and the next one kinda took a little bit of a bump. On 18 I felt like I had to force the issue a little bit, I drove it pretty bad all day, so I wasn’t overly surprised with the outcome there. I figured I’d give it a go there.”
(on if missed putt at 17 affect 18 drive) “It didn’t affect me at all, really. I was probably going to hit driver the hole time. I’m pretty gung ho sometimes, I live by the driver and die by it. I just didn’t execute enough drives today to put enough pressure on Roberto.”
ROBERTO DIAZ (winner, -18)
“Oh, man, where do I start. It’s been a long road for me. All I could think about on the course is just sustain the moment, it sounds so cliché and so, sorry, somebody’s calling me … my wife … it’s fine. It’s so cliché, you have to stay in the moment. I started getting ahead of myself on number 12 when I hit 5-iron off the tee, I knew I had a four shot lead coming off the tee and I kind of started thinking and wondering and all the things that come up with a win. It’s bad for me to say this, but it was great that they started pressing at the end toward me, because if I would have had a four shot lead coming down the last couple of holes, I probably wouldn’t have concentrated as much as I did.”
“Man, it’s a lot of emotions. This is for my mom, she passed away a long time ago, it’s amazing. It’s unbelievable. I can’t explain how bad I wanted to win, and I did it. It’s a monkey off my back. I wanted this for so long, and now that I have it, it’s awesome, awesome.”
(on baby boy provided perspective) “I had a tee with me the whole day, it’s my kid’s initials. When I started going through tough holes or something, I just looked at it. It’s awesome, I can’t describe it, it’s just great.”
(on 193 events leading up to a win) “It feels like the first. It’s amazing. It’s something that I can’t describe , I didn’t even care about the flag or the check, you know, once a winner, always a winner.”
(on man-to-man with Uihlein) “He’s a great player. He’s obviously one of the best in the world, he was ranked inside the top 50 for a while, he has a lot of experience. Even on the last hole, hit it in the water and still making par, he didn’t make it easy on me. He’s a very talented guy, a world class player and he’s a better guy. He has the whole package, I think he has a lot of game and he has a bright future in front of him. He has a good head in his shoulders and I think he’s going to have a lot more success in the game. He already has, played for a big school, won the U.S. Amateur, won in Europe, and he’s just a very tough competitor. He was a very class act out there. We were respectful to each other, we had fun, he’s just very good at golf.”
(on good shots on 16, 17 and 18) “It’s one of those things, when it’s your week it’s your week. I had good numbers every hole there, it’s rare that you get good numbers in golf. I had an odd number on 15 and I hit a bad shot, I was able to recover, but then every shot, 16, 17 and 18 they were good numbers. I had a funny lie on the bunker (on 18), all I could think of was just make good contact. I knew he’d hit in the water and that backed me off a little bit, but I was fortunate enough to get good numbers coming in. It feels surreal, feels like a dream obviously, but it’s a long time coming. I have a great team around me. I can’t say thanks enough to Ramon Viscanza (?), he’s been with me since day one, awesome guy, Jason Bierbaum (?) unbelievable. Cole (caddie) he just started with me and he’s been great. My wife has been just amazing. My family, my sister, it’s just been surreal. It’s like 95 percent her, five percent me, she’s amazing. It’s been awesome.”
(on facetime right after) “Abe (Abraham Ancer), just told me congrats, good playing. He knows how hard it’s been for me. It was great. He knows how hard I work, how tough it’s been for me. He’s there with me every day at practice, at the gym, at home, playing, struggling, he’s a great friend. It means a lot to me that he was there with me. Dale, his caddie, he faced with me last night for an hour. It’s nice for me to do this for them. It’s good.”
(on second shot settling on 18) “It was nice, you know, to have the shot there, but until you make it you can’t count anything for granted. I needed to hit a good putt to have less than two feet for par, and I did. I thought it was one of the best lag putts I’ve ever hit in my life. It was a tough putt, it was over a ridge and it was coming down the hill. It crossed my mind just hit it too hard and hit it off the green, but it didn’t and then I settled down.”
(on if ever lost faith that he would win) “Oh, yeah, last event I had nine, 10 three putts after four days, I think I lost by six or seven, finished 14th, and I called my putting coach Ramon, he’s been there the whole way, and I said, you know what, I’m never going to win. I’m just never going to win. I don’t care if I do, if I do it’s going to be great, but I’m never going to win. (I told him) I’m not a winner, I’m just out here to make money, it’s my business and I’m going to take it as a business, I’m not going to take it as a competitor. And here I am. I have to thank him a lot, he’s been with me through the ringer, he’s good, he’s very good. I have to thank a lot of people that I don’t know how to thank. A lot of people that believe in me and a lot of people that don’t believe in me. I think it’s been a blessing. Hopefully the second comes soon, you know. I’m going to be playing next week, obviously the monkey’s off my back now. I wouldn’t like to play against me now. I’m happy where I’m at.”
(on what win means to career) “This win means a lot for me, for my family, for my team, for different reasons, not only for the sentimental part of it. But like I told you, the monkey on my back is off. I feel a lot of relief, I feel a lot of weight off me. There’s only one thing that I wanted, it was to win. When my kid came along, I kind of put that off my mind, and now I have two things off my mind now.”
(on saying he didn’t care if he won Saturday) “No, I honestly didn’t care. Because I made up my mind if I didn’t win, I was going to be fine. I told myself, I even told Cole in the parking lot, they just asked me and I said I don’t care, and he said yeah, because you don’t care. On the 14th hole today I said Cole, what do you think, and he said we don’t really care, do we. And we didn’t. I saw an opening and I took advantage of it, but it could have gone either way. You saw the whole round, it could have gone either way. When Peter eagled 12 and then chipped in on 14, he almost birdied 15 and 16. It could have gone either way. It’s a long race, it’s a long season, I’m lucky enough to win on the second event of this year and it’s a wraparound season, so rack them up, rack the points. Let’s go.”
(on not thinking about last time in this position) “I had the lead in Boise going into the last round and finished fifth. I lost in a playoff in Colombia. I had a chance to win in Panama and missed a 5-footer on the last to go to a playoff. It’s been quite a number of times. I’m pretty happy that I got it done.”
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