VALDOSTA, Ga. — Former LSU All-American Andrew Loupe took a big step toward joining the PGA Tour by winning a first-stage qualifying school tournament at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club.

Loupe opened the four-day event with two rounds of 1-under-par 71. Then on Friday, Loupe, who prepped locally at Episcopal, fired a 7-under 65 to make a move toward a victory.

Despite cold temperatures and 20 miles-per-hour winds, Loupe closed out the event with a 3-under 69 on Saturday. He finished with a 12-under score of 276 for the tourney.

Loupe was four shots ahead of Paul Apyan, of Hixson, Tenn., and Chris DeForest of Purcellville, Va.

“The first couple of days, I felt like I was hitting the ball well, I just wasn’t finishing like I wanted to,” Loupe said. “I had to keep believing in myself and know that the putts would start to fall, and they did.”

The victory sends Loupe to the second stage of the PGA qualifying school set for mid-November in Tampa, Fla. Another win would send Loupe to a third stage event in California in December.

New Orleans Amateur

UNO GOLFER TOMBLIN IN SECOND PLACE: In New Orleans, University of New Orleans golfer Joshua Tomblin shot an even-par 72 on Saturday and is one shot out of the lead after the opening round of the New Orleans Amateur Golf Championships.

A sophomore from Morgan City, Tomblin will be in the final group to tee off at Lakewood Country Club on Sunday morning alongside first-round leader Patrick Christovich.

Christovich was the lone player to complete 18 holes under-par, carding a 2-under 70.

Former Louisiana-Lafayette golfer Andrew Noto is tied for third (73) with Scott Sterbcow.

Asia Pacific Classic

BO VAN PELT IN LEAD: In Selangor, Malaysia, Bo Van Pelt shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead over fellow American Jeff Overton after the third round of the Asia Pacific Classic.

Van Pelt, the winner of the PGA Tour’s 2009 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, had a 16-under 197 total at The Mines in the second-year event sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Asian Tour.

Overton, tied for second-round lead with Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson after a course-record 62, had a 69.

Jacobson (71) and Mark Wilson (67) were 13 under.

The winner will receive $1.3 million from the $6.1 million purse.

Shanghai Masters

MCILROY TAKES 3-STROKE LEAD: In Shanghai, U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes after the third round of the Shanghai Masters.

The 22-year-old star from Northern Ireland made seven birdies in another bogey-free round on Lake Malaren’s Jack Nicklaus-designed Masters course to finish at 18-under 198.

American Anthony Kim was second after a 65.

South Korea’s Noh Seung-yul was 14 under after a 67.

The 30 players are vying for the $2 million first prize, the richest in golf. All the top players are getting appearance money, and last place pays $25,000. Because the International Management Group-run event isn’t sanctioned by a major tour, it doesn’t have world-ranking points.

Andalucia Masters

GARCIA TAKES TWO-SHOT LEAD: In Sotogrande, Spain, Sergio Garcia shot a 4-under 67 Saturday to take a two-shot lead after the third round of the Andalucia Masters, putting the Spaniard in position for a second straight European Tour victory.

Garcia moved him to 6 under for the tournament, ahead of countryman Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) and Sweden’s Christian Nilsson, who matched the lowest round played this weekend with a 65.

Overnight leader Richie Ramsay of Scotland bogeyed the last two holes for a 73 that left him three strokes off the pace.

Garcia nearly had an ace on No. 6 and had six birdies at the famed Valderrama course.