BROUSSARD — Glen Day could have parlayed an advantage on the field in this week’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open. Instead, he and a long-time friend are just having fun.
The 49-year-old Day, playing on a Web.com Tour exemption that allows players preparing for the 50-and-over Champions Tour, found another Tour veteran of sorts to caddie for him during this week’s $550,000 event.
Vaughn Moise, who retired last year after nearly 30 years as a Tour rules official, had agreed last year that he’d be on the bag if Day came to Le Triomphe to play this spring.
“We were somewhere last year and he’d already said he was going to retire,” Day said Thursday after a sterling seven-under 64 that has him tied for second after the first round. “He said he’d been setting up Lafayette for a long time, and I said he ought to come caddie. He said he might do that, that would be great, to come down and spend some time with buddies and friends.”
Moise, who looks much younger than his 66 years, has many more connections in South Louisiana. He joined the LSU golf team as a walk-on in 1966 and ended up as captain for two years, along with winning the SEC title in 1969. He also lived in New Orleans for a while after graduating, and worked the Gulf Coast oil patch for more than a decade before joining the Tour in 1985 – three years before Day turned pro out of Oklahoma.
“He (Moise) made up all these rule sheets before we started,” Day said. “No practice rounds, a little bag, he wasn’t carrying a yardage book and he wasn’t reading any putts. He just kind of walks around. But he does have course knowledge here, and if it comes down to that he’ll step in.
“We just laugh and have a good time. It goes that way. When you have fun you play good. We’re having fun and then look up and we’re seven-under.”
Day can’t even blame Moise for a near-disaster during one of Thursday’s weather stoppages. Day put his clubs in the trunk of his car and then misplaced the keys inside the Tour’s operations truck. He had to get a policeman to pop the door lock.
“I knew they had to be in the truck, but I couldn’t find them,” he said. “I had 10 minutes, but then somebody found them in the truck. I told Vaughn, at our age now, memory is a team sport.”
The rains never struck hard at Le Triomphe on Thursday, but there was enough nearby lightning to force two lengthy stoppages of play.
The first lasted one hour and 15 minutes and came after six morning-wave threesomes had finished play at the 9th and 18th holes. Then, once play resumed at 1:40 p.m., the field was able to go back out for a total of nine minutes before sirens sounded once again and the course was cleared for a second time.
The stoppages in play were the first at the Open since 2010 when the start of Thursday first-round play was delayed for an hour and 10 minutes due to thunderstorms. The last suspension during a round was in the Saturday third round in 2008 when lightning held up play for an hour and 40 minutes.
There were no delays in championship play in 2012, but a Wednesday thunderstorm that year forced cancellation of the afternoon pro-am.
Thursday was a tough opening round for the four past Louisiana Open champions in the field.
Two-time champ Brett Wetterich, who won in 2003 and 2011, had the best finish in that group with a one-under 70 that included an eagle at the 12th hole but two bogeys. Wetterich is in his first competitive round in nearly six months after surgery to fix a ligament and remove a cyst in his wrist.
Edward Loar, the 2013 champion, struggled all day and was six-over through 15 holes including two double-bogeys, before finishing birdie-birdie-par for a four-over 75.
Steven Alker (2002) and Casey Wittenberg (2012) played in the afternoon wave that did not finish play. Alker was one-under through 13 holes and Wittenberg was one-over through 13.
Even though he found water on the tough 13th and a bunker lip on the 18th that both led to double-bogeys, Lafayette’s Michael Smith still posted a three-under 68 – his lowest round in seven open appearances. He had seven birdies, hitting 15 of 18 greens, and is tied for 21st among Thursday’s morning-wave finishers.
“It was a huge advantage (playing in the morning),” he said. “The conditions were perfect this morning. The first nine holes it was dead out there, no wind, the ball was running out and the greens were soft. No excuses other than executing.”
Broussard’s Brian Rowell, playing on his home course, had a one-under 70 that included three birdies and two bogeys, and was frustrated he didn’t score better.
“It was out there for the taking today,” Rowell said. “It was playing firm and fast before the rain came. It was definitely gettable if you hit the shots. But I kind of fought my swing and I didn’t putt as well as I normally do.”
Mike Heinen, the former UL-Lafayette All-American and 1994 Shell Houston Open winner on the PGA Tour, struggled home with a four-over 75 that included three birdies, three bogeys and double-bogeys on the 7th and 13th holes. The 48-year-old Heinen, also considering a Champions Tour run in less than two years, found the water at Le Triomphe four times – twice on the 7th.
Former LSU player and Tour regular Curtis Thompson posted an even-par 71 Thursday in the morning group. Among the afternoon group that will return to finish the first round Friday morning were Baton Rouge native and four-time PGA Tour champion Heath Slocum (two-over through 14), former Southeastern La. standout Hugo Leon (three-over through 10) and ex-LSU star Smylie Kaufman (one-under through nine). Kaufman is in the field as a sponsor exemption.