BROUSSARD — Most of the leaders held it together until the final couple of holes, but the wind at Le Triomphe Golf Club finally showed its teeth late Saturday in the $550,000 Chitimacha Louisiana Open.
One by one, the leaders struggled down the stretch with the breezy conditions, and when it was over, Australian Greg Chalmers and Argentinian Julian Etulain stood atop the leaderboard going into Sunday’s final round.
Both finished at four-under-par 67 in Saturday’s third round, which followed the rain-delayed completion of the second round in the morning hours, and both stand at 12-under 201 entering the final trip around the 7,069-yard par-71 course.
Four other players were at 12-under or better at one point over the final few holes, but mistakes and wind-blown shots left the veteran Chalmers and the relative-newcomer Etulain in Sunday’s final group. Both had five-birdie rounds with a single bogey in the rugged conditions.
“I don’t mind the windy conditions,” said Chalmers, who has made 382 starts on the PGA Tour and is a two-time Web.com Tour winner. “I grew up in Perth, Australia, and that’s the third-windiest city in the world, so the wind at the start of the day didn’t bother me.”
“I just tried to put my ball in the fairway and then tried to put the ball on the green,” said Etulain, who is in his second year on the Web.com Tour and had a runner-up finish last year. “The winds, that favors me. I like playing in these conditions. In Argentina, I play in these conditions all the time.”
They’re tied for the top spot because of the late-round struggles of Michigan product Ryan Brehm, who appeared to be on the way to the 54-hole lead at four-under for the day and 14-under for the tournament coming to the normally-easy 17th hole. But the winds were whipping in the players’ faces on both of the final two par-four holes, and Brehm took a double-bogey on 17 and bogeyed 18 to end up one stroke back and tied for third at 11-under.
Joel Dahmen of Clarkston, Wash., a part of the Canadian-based Mackenzie Tour for several seasons, first-round co-leader Ryan Armour of Silver Lake, Ohio, and first-year Web.com Tour pro Wesley Bryan are tied with Brehm at 11-under. Four other players, including first-round co-leader J. J. Spaun and Sebastian Munoz, who won the last Web.com Tour event in Colombia, are one more stroke back at 10-under.
That means that 10 players are within two shots and 14 players are within three shots of the lead when play begins at 7:50 a.m. off the No. 1 tee. Etulain and Chalmers will be in the final twosome at 1 p.m.
Brehm had a roller-coaster round that included seven birdies, four bogeys and the double-bogey on 17 when he snapped his drive so far left that it rolled into the water on the opposite side of the 13th fairway and then three-putted. He then hit his second shot on the 18th next to the grandstands right of the green and could not get up and down for par.
“Man, those last two holes were tough,” said Brehm, who also played the last two years on the Mackenzie Tour and earned Web.com Tour status with a tie for fifth at the Tour’s Q-school in December. “I don’t want to say I got ahead of myself, but maybe I just didn’t quite think through a couple of shots like I should’ve. That’s what happens when it’s blowing this hard.”
Chalmers, who had to Monday-qualify to get into the field, was three-under through the first five holes of the third round on his way to his third straight 67. He birdied the par-five first and fifth holes and added a birdie on the par-three third hole.
“It’s nice to be three under early,” said Chalmers, who reached in two on both par-fives and two-putted. “It was comfortable early on, it got a little tricky on the back nine as it does here. Even the holes that are downwind like 12, 13 and 14, you still have to hit quality shots because you’re going to be left with a longer shot in regardless.”
Etulain, a close friend of 2010 Louisiana Open champion Fabian Gomez, already has two top-20 finishes in two Web.com Tour events with a tie for 18th in Panama and a tie for 17th in Colombia. He credited his work in the five weeks since the Colombian event with his success.
“I played very good today,” he said. “I worked very hard the last five weeks off and I feel very comfortable with my swing. I like this course. Fabian won here, we work with the same coach the last six years and practice together all the time in Miami.”
Armour had to play nine holes and Brehm six Saturday morning to finish the second round, which didn’t end until noon. Play went off both the Nos. 1 and 10 tees in threesomes for the third round in order to catch up and set up Sunday’s final round.
“It’s cold, it’s windy, the ball’s going nowhere,” Armour said. “It was a long day. Guys who played well today, they earned it.”