BROUSSARD — Any questions about the quality of the field for the $550,000 Chitimacha Louisiana Open Presented by NACHER were answered in a big way Friday evening.
The first 132 players in the field were released by the Web.com Tour at the end of player signup Friday, and almost one-third of the field (41) has won at least one Tour event. That group totals 83 combined Web.com Tour titles.
Eighteen players in the field have won on the PGA Tour, including eight who have won multiple PGA events.
“As far as those kind of numbers, this is our best year ever,” Open executive director Danny Jones said. “We’ve always made a commitment to bring world-class professional golf to Acadiana, and the Acadiana area definitely has it this year.”
The 24th annual Louisiana Open kicks off Thursday at approximately 7:30 a.m. at its Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club. Play will go off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees in morning and afternoon waves Thursday and Friday before the field is cut to the low 65 and ties after Friday’s second. The third and fourth rounds are Saturday and Sunday as the field shoots for the $99,000 first-place check.
What kind of depth does the field have? Five of the top eight players on the alternate list, waiting to see if a spot opens up, have won on the PGA Tour including three multiple PGA winners. Of the top 16 alternates, 13 have won titles on the Web.com Tour.
The main reason for the continued improvement on the Web.com Tour is a format change that began late in 2013. In the past, players could earn PGA Tour cards through top-25 finishes on the Web.com Tour money list, but could also earn their Tour cards by finishing in the top-25 in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament (commonly known as “Q-School.”)
At the end of the 2013 season, the Web.com Tour became the official “Path to the PGA Tour,” with all 50 cards for the following PGA Tour season awarded through the Web.com Tour. The top 25 money winners in the regular season are guaranteed cards, and 25 additional cards are determined through a four-tournament Web.com Tour Finals series.
“When the Tour went to that system, it put a huge emphasis on players advancing through the Web.com Tour,” Jones said. “Basically, unless a player gets a lot of exemptions and does really well with those opportunities, the only way to get on the PGA Tour is through this tour.”
That also means the Tour is attractive not only to American players. A total of 35 international players are in the field so far, and more could be added when a pair of Monday qualifying events are staged at The Oaks in Pass Christian, Mississippi, and Windance Country Club in Gulfport, Mississippi. Out of an estimated 250 participants in those two events, six players will qualify from each of those courses to round out the 144-player field.
The Louisiana Open is also the first U.S.-based event on Tour this year, after a five-tournament swing through Panama, Colombia, Brazil and Chile. That makes this event a part of virtually every Web.com Tour-eligible player’s schedule. The Web.com Tour’s final event before heading to Acadiana, the Chile Classic, wraps up play Sunday in Santiago, Chile.
Louisiana Open activities begin Sunday with the finals of the Cypress Bayou Casino $1 Million Hole-in-One Shootout at Le Triomphe’s eighth hole, where approximately 50 local golfers will have one shot at a $1 million payout for a hole-in-one and the closest shot will win a $1,000 prize.
The Dwight Andrus Insurance Pro-Am is at 9 a.m. Monday, and after Tuesday’s player practice rounds the Advance Fire & Safety Pro-Am and the Louisiana Blasting & Coating Pro-Am are Wednesday before the start of championship play Thursday.