Roberto Diaz shoots 64 to take two-stroke lead into final round at Chitimacha Louisiana Open
BROUSSARD, La. – Roberto Diaz carded a bogey-free 7-under 64 on Saturday to reach 15-under through three rounds at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS. Diaz leads Peter Uihlein by two strokes entering the final round at Le Triomphe Golf & Country Club.
Diaz turned in 3-under 33 after birdieing the three par-5s on the front nine. He collected two more at Nos. 11 and 12 before almost acing the par-3 16th. After tapping in, he added one more birdie from 11 feet at the par-4 17th to cap the round, his lowest since a 64 last July at the TPC San Antonio Challenge at the Canyons.
“It was a very good round, but as I told you guys yesterday, there’s a lot of golf left,” cautioned Diaz. “I’ve been in this position once in my life that I really messed it up and I really don’t want to think about it.”
Diaz credited his turnaround this week to a new outlook on golf. Part of that is owed to having his first child in December, something that Diaz says has changed his perspective while out on the course. Another catalyst to his relaxed viewpoint was caddying for his good friend Abraham Ancer on the PGA TOUR a couple of weeks ago at the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship at The Concession.
“I think caddying for Abe really helped me out,” reflected Diaz. I think that week was more helpful than I thought. I see a lot of joy when he plays and that got me to realize that he’s just playing golf. When I’m at home that’s how I play. I play a lot with my friends and I smile, I make jokes and I give them crap. I think that’s what I do best and that’s how I play my best golf and I’ve never done it on the golf course.”
Despite graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour once before in 2017, the 34-year-old has yet to break through with a win in 112 career starts. He has finished runner-up three times, most recently at the 2020 Panama Championship. Diaz competed on the PGA TOUR for two seasons after graduating in 2017 before returning to the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020.
“I’ve always played with a lot of pressure and I always play with a lot of, like, I wanted it so much,” said Diaz, a San Antonio resident who went back to his original hometown of Veracruz, Mexico last week for the first time in a year and a half. “Right now I’m happy where I’m at. I have a great group of guys around me, I have a kid now, my wife is awesome. If I win tomorrow it’s going to be great, but if I don’t win that baby’s going to wake up on Monday and he’s going to smile the same way he smiled today…I think I’m kind of understanding that this is just a game.”
Diaz will carry a two-stroke lead over Uihlein – and a five-stroke lead over the rest of the field – entering the final round. Diaz has held a share of the 54-hole lead once before at the 2018 Albertsons Boise Open but finished fifth.
Final-round tee times will run from 7:40 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. on Sunday off of the first tee.
SATURDAY CHITIMACHA LOUISIANA OPEN QUOTES
LEE HODGES (9-under 62 today after making the cut on the number Friday)
(on thinking he’d missed the cut) “I kinda changed some stuff around, and then had to re-change it around. It’s a crazy finish here. You never know what can happen. It was a weird round. I hit it so bad the first two days. I hit it all over this golf course, I’ve seen every inch of it. But I was chipping and putting it good. So I knew if I could get it around the hole, give myself some chances, I could do all right. Just kinda hit it better today and putted really, really nice, made a lot of good putts, chipped it really nice as well.”
“I didn’t hit one ball (after yesterday’s round). I was like I’m getting out of here, I thought I missed the cut, finished here, I had 20 feet for birdie yesterday and missed it, thought it was to make the cut. So it was like, whatever, I’m leaving. I was a little butt hurt honestly, I was a little upset about it just because I pride myself on not missing many cuts. Then to make the cut, I was like, we’re here, we might as well play.
“I kinda played pretty aggressive to start off with, hit a lot of good iron shots close, just tried to stay aggressive all day. Yesterday it was like mom’s coming, let’s play hard so mom can watch you play, and then I thought I missed the cut. We went to dinner last night which was great, and then I made the cut so I’m glad they were here to watch that.”
(following cut line?) “Not really, I looked one time and I was in 73rd place and wow, it’s over. Then Taylor my caddie texted me and said we’re in, and I looked and we were in like 61st. A lot of changes at the end.”
“I made a nice eagle on 5, about a 20-footer there, a lot of them were pretty easy honestly, 10-footers, I had a couple of close, three or four feet, but a lot were typical 10-footers. I rolled it really nice today.”
“When I was playing yesterday the wind wasn’t that bad, the pin locations were a little gettable. I thought it would be closer to even than 1-over, so for it to be 2-over I’ll take it.”
(have a chance now?) “I think so. I’ll be quite a few back, there’s another low score out there. The pins are gettable, and the greens are actually rolling pretty nice today, and there’s not much wind. But if I can shoot anything remotely what I did today I’ll be all right.”
PETER UIHLEIN (-5 66 today, -13 tournament, two behind)
(being in contention) “It’s nice to get started back up, I will have played all four days and made the cut in all four events, getting reps under my belt, that’s part of the process of getting back into it. I haven’t been in Sunday contention in a while, so it’ll be nice.”
(on fun in trading birdies) “It is fun. Good golf’s better than bad golf that’s for sure. Bad golf’s not enjoyable at all. It is fun when you’re kind of both feeding off each other and playing. It’s good. I have a good relationship with Bobby, we get along, so it’s fun.”
(on avoiding match play trap) “The weather’s supposed to be pretty good tomorrow, not a lot of wind, so I imagine guys are still going to make birdies and stuff. It should be a pretty low one out in front of us, so you kind of can’t really get into that one-v-one mindset. You have to make some birdies.”
“I was first alternate Palm Springs and Torrey, I kept getting the calls on Tuesday night, hey, you’re first alternate, do you want to come out. I was like, no, it’s cross country. I didn’t get in either, which worked out, but I just haven’t played. It was nice, kind of a little break.”
(on playing with Diaz) “Yeah, a few times. We’ve played a lot together. We have a good relationship, we have a lot of fun. He’s a good guy, great guy. He just hits it on a string every time, he doesn’t miss many fairways, he’s very solid, he putted well, he controlled his ball, he was impressive today.”
ROBERTO DIAZ (-7 64 today, -15 tournament, leading by two)
“It was good. I had two very good saves, I had a great save on nine. I hit a bad drive to the left, in the lip of a bunker, I laid up. I decided to lay up, I’ve made too many dumb decisions in my life to just go for the green again. I laid up, and hit a really nice wedge shot to four feet and made it. Then on 13 I hit a good drive, just a little too far left, and it caught something and went all the way to the trees. I had a gap that I could have gone through, but again I laid up to 77 yards and hit it to five feet and made it. It was a very good round.”
“I told you guys yesterday, there’s a lot of golf left. I’ve been in this position once in my life that I really messed it up, and I really don’t want to think about it.”
(on the hole feeling bigger again) “Yeah, my pace has been incredible the last two days. The first day my pace was off, but the last two days I worked on my pace on the putting green and I’ve got the speed right. I feel like I’m just dying them to the hole and I feel like the hole just gets bigger. Today was a very good ball striking round, I hit it very well today. I hit it like I did in Florida, in Florida I hit it really well for four days, I just had 11 three putts in four days, if not I would have been on top of the leaderboard there too. You learn, and here we are.”
(on enjoying play now) “I think caddying for Abe (Ancer) really helped me out. I think that week was more helpful than I thought. I see a lot of joy when he plays, that got me to realize that he’s just playing golf. When I’m at home that’s how I play. I play a lot with my friends and I smile, I make jokes and I give them crap. I think that’s what I do best and that’s how I play my best golf, and I’ve never done it on the golf course. When I’m in a tournament I think that everything’s so serious because we’re playing for something and for a trophy and for this and that, but caddying for Abe was very helpful. He actually knows, he told me that it was going to be more helpful than I thought. We had a very good chat on Sunday after we finished, and it helped me a lot.”
(on interaction with fans at 16) “They’re here to watch good golf and just talk to the guys. I just feel that I can be one of the guys that they can have a beer with. I’m just a regular guy that hits the golf ball straight and make some putts, but I’m just a normal guy (he hit to three feet on the par-3 16). They owe me beers. It was fun, I think they had a bet going for some beers, so it was fun.”
(on wedges) “Yeah, that’s the strength of my game, and it’s always been the strength of my game. The weeks that I’m on, that’s what I do best. When I feel that I can fade the wedges, I think the whole game is under control. Today I was able to fade some wedges. I felt that I was able to aim left of the pin and just let it fall right, that’s when my game is in control. When I’m able to do that, I think that I’m capable of hitting every golf shot.”
(on fun of trading birdies) “Of course. That’s what you look for. That’s what you practice for. Peter is a great guy, we actually played a lot together the last year, we’ve become pretty friendly out there. He’s a great player, he has one of the best short games I’ve ever seen. It’s fun, it’s a lot of fun to be out there. If he makes a birdie and I have to top it, I’m up for the challenge.”
(on tomorrow) “Just have a nice round, it’s going to be a nice stroll. The weather’s going to be better. I’ve been enjoying coming here, I actually have breakfast across the street every day at Mel’s (Mel’s Diner on Highway 90 across from Le Triomphe entrance) and I just like the people around here. I feel that it’s a very peaceful place. I’ve never played good here but I’ve always enjoyed it. I think the guys around here are awesome guys. Tomorrow’s going to be a challenge, it’s the first time that I have a lead going into Sunday, but if I don’t win I don’t care. If I don’t win, I’m going to wake up Monday feeling the same way. I’ve never felt this way. A couple of years ago I really wanted to win, right now I’m over it. I’m to the point that I’m going to try to hit the best shot that I can at the time. If it goes well, it goes well, if not I find it and hit it again. I learned that during the WGC that I caddied. It’s a lot of stress for the money they play and all the points and everything they do, but they enjoy it, and I wasn’t enjoying it. I’ve always played with a lot of pressure and I always play with a lot of, like, I wanted it so much. Right now I’m happy where I’m at. I have a great group of guys around me, I have a kid now, my wife is awesome. If I win tomorrow it’s going to be great, but if I don’t win that baby’s going to wake up on Monday and he’s going to smile the same way he smiled today.”
(at Mel’s menu) “I have four eggs over medium with bacon. They’re great people.”
(on chat with Ancer) “I see him playing and I think he enjoys it a lot, he enjoys where he’s at and I think he enjoys the pressure that he’s at. He just likes the way he plays, and I’ve never had that. I’ve always been so precise, so wanted to be there and wanted to be there, and I put so much pressure on myself that I never actually performed to the level that I could because I always felt nervous, and in the last three days I’ve never had an ounce of nerves in me. I stand over tees and I’m enjoying it, I’m walking around. I just went home last week (to Mexico, first time in a year and a half) and I saw my nephews. I think I’m kind of understanding that this is just a game.”
Chitimacha Louisiana Open Presented by MISTRAS — Final-round Pairings for Sunday, March 21
All off No. 1 Tee
7:40 a.m. Theo Humphrey, Dallas, Texas; Will Cannon, Birmingham, Ala.
7:49 a.m. Zecheng Dou, Beijing, China; Jonas Blixt, Hammaro, Sweden; Jamie Arnold, Sydney, Australia
8 a.m. Matt Ryan, Charlotte, N.C.; Grant Hirschman, Memphis, Tenn.; Eric Cole, Tequesta, Fla.
8:11 a.m. Nick Voke, Auckland, New Zealand; Jared Wolfe, Ponte Vedra, Fla.; Erik Barnes, Marion, Ind.
8:22 a.m. Kevin Roy, Tampa, Fla.; Andrew Novak, Sea Island, Ga.; Curtis Luck, Perth, Australia
8:33 a.m. Vince India, Chicago, Ill.; Robert Garrigus, Banks, Ore.; Justin Lower, Cana Fulton, Ohio
8:44 a.m. Derek Ernst, Dallas, Texas; David Skinns, Lincoln, England; David Lipsky, Las Vegas, Nev.
8:55 a.m. Joshua Creel, Cheyenne, Wyo.; Michael Miller, Brewster, N.Y.; Patrick Fishburn, Ogden, Utah
9:06 a.m. Harry Hall, Las Vegas, Nev.; Curtis Thompson, Coral Springs, Fla.; Max Greyserman, Short Hills, N.J.
9:17 a.m. Kevin Dougherty, Murrieta, Calif.; Taylor Pendrith, Richmond Hill, Ontario; David Riley, Hattiesburg, Miss.
9:28 a.m. Ben Martin, Kiawah Island, S.C.; Blayne Barber, Auburn, Ala.; T. J. Vogel, Hollywood, Fla.
9:39 a.m. Preston Stanley, Katy, Texas; Andrew Dorn, West Chester, Ohio; Steve LeBrun, Royal Palm Beach, Fla.
9:50 a.m. Brandon Harkins, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Cameron Young, Scarborough, N.Y.; Paul Barjon, Dumbea, New Caledonia
10:01 a.m. Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, Irapuato, Mexico; Aaron Baddeley, Melbourne, Australia; John Chin, Temecula, Calif.
10:12 a.m. Jimmy Stanger, Tampa, Fla.; Max McGreevy, Dallas, Texas; Tommy Gainey, Hartsville, S.C.
10:23 a.m. David Kocher, Charlotte, N.C.; Brian Campbell, Irvine, Calif.; Trey Mullinax, Birmingham, Ala.
10:34 a.m. Dawson Armstrong, Brentwood, Tenn.; Ben Kohles, Cary, N.C.; Dan McCarthy, Syracuse, N.Y.
10:46 a.m. Austin Smotherman, Dallas, Texas; Zack Sucher, Birmingham, Ala.; Sahith Theegala, Chino Hills, Calif.
10:58 a.m. Dylan Wu, Medford, Ore.; Fabian Gomez, Chaco, Argentina; Whee Kim, Dallas, Texas
11:10 a.m. Dawie van der Walt, Kingwood, Texas; Seth Reeves, Johns Creek, Ga.; Stephen Franken, Raleigh, N.C.
11:22 a.m. Jack Maguire, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Callum Tarren, Darlington, England; Taylor Montgomery, Las Vegas, Nev.
11:34 a.m. Paul Haley II, Dallas, Texas; Harrison Endycott, Sydney, Australia; Lee Hodges, Ardmore, Ala.
11:46 a.m. Carl Yuan, Dalian, China; Adam Svensson, Surrey, British Columbia; Tom Whitney, Dallas, Texas
11:58 a.m. Stephan Jaeger, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Scott Gutschewski, Omaha, Neb.; Chad Ramey, Fulton, Miss.
12:10 p.m. Roberto Diaz, Veracruz, Mexico; Peter Uihlein, Jupiter, Fla.; Braden Thornberry, Olive Branch, Miss.
- < PREV Three pitchers combine for Mississippi State to blank LSU, 3-0
- NEXT > Lady Techsters sweep Saturday DH at Memphis