BROUSSARD — There will be more trick-shot videos coming. In fact, the Bryan brothers drove to Dallas overnight Sunday to meet up with a well-known YouTube producer.
“It’s going to be a pretty sweet video,” Wesley Bryan said.
It’ll be different this time, though. When the two internet sensations of golf trick shots next go in front of a camera, Wesley will have a Web.com Tour championship and a $99,000 first-place check in his pocket, and a huge leg up on a trip to the PGA Tour.
Bryan survived a back-nine dogfight, one that featured a five-way tie for the lead at one point, and rolled in a clutch 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to take a one-stroke lead in the $550,000 Chitimacha Louisiana Open. Minutes later, he two-putted from 30 feet on the 18th, and watched the final two groups come up short in an effort to catch him.
That birdie-par finish left him with a 3-under 68 in Sunday’s final round and a 14-under-par 270 for the tournament, enough for a one-stroke win over Argentina’s Julian Etulain in only his third-ever Web.com Tour event.
“I had some crazy up and downs. I hit it some awful spots on the back nine and was able to salvage pars out of them,” said Bryan, who was one stroke out of the lead after both the second and third rounds. “I was able to make a birdie on 17 and kind of breathe a little easier on 18 over that three or four-footer.”
Before this season, Wesley and older brother George Bryan were best known for a series of trick-shot videos that have become staples on the internet. But both always stressed that all of their stunts — such as driving a bouncing golf ball 275 yards down the middle — are based on actual golf skills.
“Trick shots are tangible,” Wesley Bryan said. “But it’s great to be able to be differentiated from the trick-shot guys and now be a legitimate contender in golf tournaments.”
George served as his caddie during the Louisiana Open’s four rounds, after himself missing making the Open field by one shot in a Monday qualifier. After Wesley opened 66-65 in the first two rounds, their parents and his wife Elizabeth drove 10 hours from their Augusta, Georgia, home to turn Sunday’s post-tournament celebration into a family affair.
“My wife and I have been praying for a win for a long time on any level, for the top 25 every night before we go to bed,” Bryan said, referring to the PGA Tour cards that go to the top 25 on the Web.com Tour’s season-ending money list. “That goal is still first and foremost, and that is now a little more graspable, it makes it a lot easier.”
It didn’t come easy Sunday. Behind Etulain’s 13-under 271 score, four players finished two more strokes back at 11-under 273. Three of those players — Martin Flores, Ryan Brehm and Joel Dahmen — all had a share of the lead at one point in the back nine, and five-time PGA Tour champion Jonathan Byrd was only one stroke back and was safely in the clubhouse at 11-under-par.
But Flores bogeyed both the par-four 15th and the par-three 16th to slip back, Brehm flew the green from a bunker in front of the 15th and double-bogeyed, and Dahmen bogeyed the 16th and 18th holes.
“I saw a five-way tie and I knew it could be a close one coming down the stretch,” Bryan said. “I just knew I had to stay in the process and make sure I was doing all I could do to keep the situation out of my mind and keep the next shot on my mind.”
The late struggles from the rest of the field left the battle to Etulain, and the 27-year-old from Buenos Aires, Argentina, had a golden opportunity to force a playoff while playing in the final grouping. After a round of 15 pars and a two-putt birdie on the par-five seventh, the former PGA Tour LatinoAmerica Order of Merit winner as that tour’s top money winner stood over a 10-foot putt on the 17th green to tie for the lead.
But it slid by on the high side, leaving him one stroke back going to the par-four 18th. His drive there rolled through the fairway and stopped on a cart path, and after a drop he hit a twisting 8-iron around a tree and to the right side of the green, 30 feet from the pin. But that tying putt also slid past the left lip.
“I never saw the leaderboard,” said Etulain, who shared the 54-hole lead with veteran Greg Chalmers. “But I knew at 18 I needed a birdie and I tried to do something good. On 17 I played aggressive and hit it close. I knew I had to have a birdie.”
Chalmers had a two-stroke lead early on the back side and still led by one before making a scrambling bogey out of the water — twice — on the par-five 12th hole. He was still tied before bogeying the 16th and double-bogeying the 17th, and finished with a 2-over 73 and tied for seventh at 10-under 274.
Other than an 18th-hole birdie putt by Brehm that got him into the tie for third, the only birdie on the final three holes among the top six finishers was Bryan’s eventual tournament-winner on the 17th. He hit 3-wood off the tee short of the fairway bunkers and hit a knock-down 130-yard 7-iron 15 feet past the flag before rolling in the putt, prior to his two-putt par on the final hole.
“I hit my best putt of the day,” Bryan said of the birdie at 17, “right in the middle, perfect speed, everything I was looking for. I was playing for par on 18 ... I looked at the board after 17 and saw that I had the one-shot lead, and with the wind direction today I knew it was going to be tough for anyone to birdie either one today.”
His finish gave him his first win since a mini-tour victory last summer, that one ironically coming in his Columbia, S.C., hometown. He had finished tied for seventh at the season-opening Panama Claro Championship, after earning a Web.com Tour spot by finishing tied for ninth at the tour’s “Q-School” in December.
“Coming into the season I felt like I was in really good form,” Bryan said. “I was expecting to win right out of the gate. I felt like I was playing really well, and I felt really good coming down here this week. Being in the south kind of feels like home to me.”