BROUSSARD — Matt Fast and Wesley Bryan both played their second rounds early Friday at the $550,000 Chitimacha Louisiana Open, and that turned out to be a big benefit.
By the time afternoon rain and thunderstorms rolled across Le Triomphe Golf Club, leading to a two-hour delay, Fast and Bryan were safely in the clubhouse with 6-under-par 65 scores already posted.
That wound up good enough to keep them first and second on the leaderboard when play was stopped for a second time at 5:34 p.m. and finally called off shortly after 6 p.m. because of lightning in the area.
Only 77 players in the field completed play, and 72 players remained on the course when play was finally halted for the day.
“I’ve had my fair share of good draws out here,” said Fast, who had his second straight 65 on Friday to put him at 12-under 130 through two rounds. That was good enough for a one-stroke lead over first-year Web.com Tour member Bryan, who had a five-under 66 in Thursday’s opening round.”
The rest of the field will finish the second round beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, weather permitting. The field will be cut to the low 65 and ties after completion of the second round, and the regularly-scheduled Saturday third round is expected to begin at about 11:45 a.m. with threesomes off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees.
The delays and the eventual suspension of play left many of the first-round leaders on the course. Thursday co-leaders Ryan Armour and J. J. Spaun, who each shot 8-under 63 in the first round, only finished nine and six holes respectively in the afternoon wave. Armour was 1 under for the day and Spaun was even.
“Luckily, I’ve been around long enough. This isn’t anything new to us,” said Armour, who was on the No. 1 green and starting his back side when the horn sounded. “Unfortunately you have to get up and start early, but it’s better safe than sorry and get everybody off the course. You just go with the flow.”
Dawie van der Walt, who was one stroke back with a 7-under 64 on Thursday, is actually the closest player to Fast and Bryan going into Saturday’s play. The former Lamar standout was 3 under through 11 holes Friday and stands at 10-under for the tournament, two back of Fast.
Andrew Putnam, who played on the PGA Tour last season after two years on the Web.com Tour, heads up a group one more stroke back at 9-under 133 after assembling the day’s best round, an 8-under 63 in the third group of the morning wave.
Putnam’s stellar round included six birdies and an eagle on the par-4 17th hole when he threw in a 139-yard 9-iron on his second shot. That was part of him blitzing Le Triomphe’s more-difficult back nine with a 29, missing the tournament record for the back side by one stroke.
“I couldn’t see it because of the little swale in front,” said the Tacoma, Wash., native and fourth-year Tour pro. “But I had one person yell out and scream that it went in. I can’t remember the last time I shot 29 for nine holes.”
Fast’s round also included an eagle, when he hit a 6-iron to 10 feet off the green on the par-5 seventh hole and rolled in a 40-footer. Fast played Le Triomphe’s four par-5 in 5-under, and finished with five birdies and a lone bogey after recoding seven birdies in Thursday’s opening round.
“I had tons of looks, tons of 20-footers today,” said the Baton Rouge native and current Hattiesburg, Mississippi, resident. “I hit some close ones. My ball striking has been good. Some of the pins were tougher to get to today on some of the par-4s. But you have to play the par-5s good here ... everybody else is getting there, you’re going to fall behind there if you make pars.”
Bryan, in his first year on the Web.com Tour and better known for Internet-based trick-shot artistry with his brother George, also birdied all four of the par-5s as part of a seven-birdie, one-bogey round. On two of the par-5s, the fifth and seventh holes, he laid up with his second shot and stuck wedges from 65 yards within two feet for tap-in birdies.
“I was kind of able to keep the momentum going there, instead of making stupid pars on some of the par-fives like I’ve done as of late,” said the Augusta, Ga., native. “I’m driving it fairly decent, putting it well, hitting the irons well. I missed a couple that I’d like to have back, but overall I can’t be too upset shooting 65.”
The cut will not be established until the second round is completed, but most of the local contingent saw its hopes to make it to the weekend end on Friday. Lafayette’s Michael Smith carded a 3-under 68 that included seven birdies but two bogeys and a double-bogey, and had five birdies on his final seven holes. But his two-round 1-under 141 will miss the cut likely by two strokes.