BROUSSARD — The 13th and 14th holes at Le Triomphe Golf Club usually determine the champion of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, and they also rank annually among the toughest holes on the Web.com Tour.
Ask Rhein Gibson how tough they are. It was bogeys on those two holes that eventually cost the Australian native his first Tour title.
Gibson had birdied three holes on the front side during Sunday’s final round of the $550,000 event, and he held the lead even after a bad chip resulted in a bogey on the par-3 eighth. That was before he took his 15-under-par score to the “Gator’s Jaw” 13th, which ranked as the Tour’s hardest hole in 1999 and has been in the Tour’s top 40 a dozen times since.
“I stayed away from the water on 13 and got in the back bunker,” he said, “and didn’t get it up and down. And then I drove it under the lip on 14.”
Those back-to-back bogeys dropped him to 13-under, and he never caught eventual winner Kelly Kraft again. Kraft also bogeyed at 13, but he had three birdies down the stretch.
The 446-yard 13th played at a 4.346 average on Sunday, and even that was better than the 4.556 it played in Saturday’s third round. There were only seven birdies on Sunday compared to 18 bogeys and seven double-bogeys.
The 14th was even more stingy birdie-wise. For the second straight day, only one player — former Lamar standout Dawie van der Walt — birdied the 14th hole. There were only 16 birdies all week on the 485-yard 14th compared to 150 bogeys and 16 double-bogeys.
Louisiana Open winner Kelly Kraft had originally planned to head for Houston Sunday evening and try to qualify Monday for the Shell Houston Open on the PGA Tour. It doesn’t affect his Web.com Tour play, since the Web.com has the next two weeks off and doesn’t resume until the El Bosque Mexico Championship April 16-19.
Those plans may have been altered with his Sunday win.
“I’m going to ask my wife what she wants to do,” Kraft said late Sunday. His wife Tia walked the course with him in Sunday’s final round.
Lafayette’s Michael Smith wrapped up play with an even-par 71 Sunday, posting three birdies and three bogeys, and finished 76th at 2-over 286. Smith was in good position for a high finish midway through Saturday’s third round but went 6-over-par on the notorious 13th and 14th holes — both of which he parred on Sunday.
“I played a lot of good golf at times,” Smith said of the week where he made the Open cut for the second time in his career. “I just had a couple of holes here and there that really hurt me. Other than that, I just didn’t make the putts I really needed to make.”
Smith’s driver was balky over his final three rounds. After he hit eight of 13 fairways on Thursday in an opening-round 68, he hit only 15 of 39 for just over 38 percent in the final three rounds. For the event, he finished tied for 73rd out of the 81 players who made the cut in fairways.
“The driver’s been an issue for me the last couple of years,” he said. “It hasn’t been as good as it has been in the past. The rest of my game’s been really complete and where it needs to be, I just gotta start hitting the ball better off the tee to give myself more opportunities with those clubs.”
Smith will be playing in several Adams Tour events this year along with trying to qualify for both the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and several Web.com Tour events.
“I’m going to try to get back out here and make a cut and hopefully play well,” he said. “It’s just trying to get back out here and then take advantage of that.”
Former Louisiana Open champion Casey Wittenberg finished tied for 52nd at four-under 280. He was the only one of four previous winners in the field to make the cut. ... Dawie van der Walt, who won last week’s Chile Classic, finished tied for ninth at 11-under 273. He was one of four previous winners on this year’s Web.com Tour to make the cut, with Peter Malnati (Brasil Champions) carding a final-round 64 to finish at 9-under 275 (tie 16th), Andrew Landry (Cartegena de Indias) tying for 23rd at 8-under 276 and Mathew Goggin (Panama Claro) tied for 77th at 3-over 28.7 ... Malnati’s finish earned him $7,715, enough to move him into the Tour’s money lead with $164,607 through six events. Patrick Rodgers, who held the top spot for four weeks, was the only 2015 Tour winner not to play this week. ... Five of the 12 Monday qualifiers made the cut for the final two rounds. ... The 81-player field for the final two rounds included six PGA Tour winners with a combined 13 Tour wins, and 23 Web.com Tour champions with a combined 41 wins. ... Kraft’s rally from six strokes back is the fourth-largest in Louisiana Open history. The third-largest came last year when Kris Blanks erased a 7-shot deficit in the final round. ... Kraft’s only previous top-10 finish on Tour was a second-place finish at the 2013 Mylan Classic near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.