BROUSSARD — Danny Duplantis admitted he’d never heard of the Cypress Bayou Casino & Hotel $1 Million Hole-in-One before two weeks ago.
Sunday, he emerged as the top winner in the opening event of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open Presented by NACHER.
Duplantis put his shot 17-feet, 1-inch from the pin on Le Triomphe’s treacherous 180-yard eighth hole Sunday during the finals, capturing the $1,000 prize for the closest shot out of the 50-player field.
The St. Martinville native plays at Squirrel Run in New Iberia every Saturday. That happened to be the day that Squirrel Run hosted one of the eight qualifiers that put players through to the final round, and Duplantis had to be goaded into taking a shot at the Plantation Course’s eighth hole that day.
“The people there talked me into it,” he said, “and I finally just said I’d take one shot.”
Sunday, he turned that $5 donation to the Animal Rescue Foundation into the thousand-dollar prize, hitting a 6-iron downwind that rolled to a stop pin-high on the right side. He was one of only eight players to hit the green, thanks in part to a tricky pin placement on the back edge.
“I figured what I normally hit 180, and then took off a club with the wind and the elevation,” said the five-handicapper. “I really didn’t watch what everybody else was hitting. I just wanted to play by own game.”
Bryan Guidry of Lafayette, who qualified at Les Vieux Chenes, finished second with a shot 20-feet, 4-inches from the pin and Brady Como of Broussard was third at 29-feet, 3-inches after qualifying at Le Triomphe. They won $400 and $100, respectively.
2014 Louisiana Open champion Kris Blanks was at Le Triomphe on Sunday as a guest of the Open, and will be participating in Monday’s Dwight Andrus Insurance Pro-Am.
Blanks is not in this year’s field as he recovers from an injury. He has a medical exemption from the Tour, but one that only give him a certain number of events to play to maintain his Tour status, and he said he wanted to be fully healthy before taking advantage of that exemption.
But the two-time Web.com Tour winner and two-time PGA Tour runner-up said he was here to help the Open after his win last year. In addition to playing the Monday pro-am.
“I owe that to the people here,” he said Sunday inside the Tour trailer while catching up on NCAA basketball tournament action. “Everyone was so great to me last year, this is the least I can do.”
The pro-am kicks off on-course activities at 9 a.m. Monday. Among the pros scheduled play along with Blanks are former Louisiana Open champion Casey Wittenberg, four-time PGA Tour winner Michael Bradley, two-time PGA Tour winner Troy Matteson, former PGA Tour winners Mike Heinen, Glen Day and Ted Purdy, and local sponsor exemptions Michael Smith, Brian Rowell and ex-LSU standout Smylie Kaufman.
n The Open and Lafayette Consolidated Government announced that the winner of this August’s Lafayette City Championships will receive a paid entry into the Monday qualifying for the 2016 Louisiana Open.
n The Open is still in need of volunteers to serve as walking scorers during championship play on Thursday and Friday. Some golf knowledge is required, and interested individuals or groups may call the Open office at (337) 593-8000 or go online at www.laopen.com to volunteer.
n One of the qualifiers for the Hole-in-One finals Sunday was new UL-Lafayette defensive coordinator Melvin Smith, who put his shot six feet, seven inches from the pin in the qualifying round. That made Smith a “double-up” on Sunday, since he also participated in the celebrity portion of the Hole-in-One.
n Nick Darbonne of Acadiana Sports League won the celebrity division as the only celebrity to hit the green. Players in the celebrity division played on behalf of a charity, and Darbonne won $3,000 for Camp Bon Coeur, a residential summer camp located in Richard near Eunice for youths dealing with heart problems and other cardiovascular issues.
n Paul Broussard won the Open’s annual raffle of a trip to The Masters in three weeks. Broussard won practice-round tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday, two four-day badges for the tournament itself, the use of a house for the week and a travel stipend.