Of the four golfers who survived a Monday qualifier to gain entry into the Zurich Classic of New Orleans field, only one — former UL-Lafayette star Michael Smith — made the 36-hole cut and earned a check.
Smith, a Lafayette native who plays primarily on the Adams Pro Tour, finished with a 12-under par 276 total and tied for 36th after posting scores of 70, 68, 67 and 71 for four trips around the TPC Louisiana course.
It was the 29-year-old Smith’s second PGA Tour start, with the only other one coming in the 2011 U.S. Open. Smith earned $31,099 for his efforts, which included 20 birdies and eight bogeys.
“The goal, always, is to make the cut,” Smith said after finishing his final round on Sunday. “After that, it’s play as well as you can. It was a good week for me … it was close to home and a lot of fun.
“I did about as well as I could,” he said. “I didn’t hit the ball very well. I struggled all week, but I putted well. My ball-striking wasn’t as good as it normally is, and I had to make some tough up-and-down (putts) and some long putts.”
Smith had the lowest score among four Louisiana players who made the cut. Former LSU star John Peterson tied for 49th at 278 as did former Tulane player Michael Thompson. David Toms, another former LSU player, finished 69th with a 285.
With scores of 69, 66, 65 and 66, Zurich Classic champion Justin Rose extended his streak of par or better rounds at TPC Louisiana to 16 in a row.
The streak began with his opening-round score of 72 back in 2012. Since then, Rose is 60-under par and has averaged 68.25 strokes per round in those 16 trips around TPC Louisiana.
Jason Day, the world’s sixth-ranked player, shared the 54-hole lead with Rose at 16-under when a third round delayed by rain, darkness and fog finally ended around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
But Day couldn’t close the deal, however, and finished three strokes behind Rose with a 19-under 269 to tie for fourth.
It was the fifth time Day had at least a share of the lead going into the final round of a Tour event, but won only at the 2010 Byron Nelson.
Johnson, Day move up
Dustin Johnson was the odds-on favorite coming into the Zurich Classic, having finished sixth or better in five of his last six starts with a win at Doral.
He tied for 43rd here, coming in with a final-round 72 to finish at 11-under par. But his presence in this week’s field was enough to vault him into the top five of the FedEx Cup standings, moving past 2011 Zurich winner Bubba Watson.
Johnson has 1,132 points, behind former University High golfer Patrick Reed in fourth place (1,173 points) and 15 ahead of Watson (1,117).
With a tie for fourth, Day moved up two spots to seventh place with 1,063 points. Masters champion Jordan Spieth leads with 2,072 points.
Scott Stallings didn’t finish the tournament the way he would have liked, with a bogey at No. 9 after starting his final round on the back nine, but it wasn’t all bad.
Before that closing bogey, Stallings carded seven consecutive birdies between the second and eighth holes.
That tied the longest birdie streak on the Tour this season by four players — Danny Lee, Tony Finau, Bill Haas and James Hahn.
A week after losing a playoff to Jim Furyk at the RBC Heritage, Kevin Kisner continued his solid play with a tie for 28th in the Zurich Classic at 14 under.
“I played well,” Kisner said. “I had just two bogeys all week. These guys are good. I finished 14 under and I won’t crack the top 20. But I’m excited about the way I played.”
Many pros want to keep a hot streak going, but Kisner will have to sit out next week’s WGC-Cadillac Match Play in San Francisco because he doesn’t have a high enough world ranking.
The Zurich Classic marks the start of the second half of the 44-week 2014-15 PGA Tour season. … The 2016 Zurich Classic is tentatively set for April 21-24.
The last word
“I’ve always enjoyed my time here — win, lose or draw — but to get on the right side of things and win has made it such a fun week.” — Rose.