Brett Wetterich wins the Chitimacha Louisiana Open
Brett Wetterich fired a 2-under-par 69 Sunday to win the Chitimacha Louisiana Open for the second time in his Nationwide Tour career. Wetterich, who won here in 2003, finished at 13-under 271, one stroke better than University of Florida senior Andres Echavarria (67) and two in front of former Florida Gator and 2009 champion Bubba Dickerson (69).
John Kimbell posted the round of the week with a 10-under 61 and settled in the clubhouse at 10-under 274 more than 3 ½ hours in front of the final group. Kimbell eventually settled for a fourth-place tie with Rich Barcelo (70) and Carl Paulson (67), who registered his first top-10 finish of any kind since 2002.
Wetterich recovered from consecutive bogeys midway through the final nine holes at Le Triomphe Country Club and regained the lead with a tap-in birdie putt at the 15thhole. He steadied himself down the stretch with three consecutive pars to become the first two-time winner in the tournament’s 20-year history. He also becomes the ninth player in Tour history to win the same event twice.
“I love this place. This course just fits me perfectly,” he said. “This is a great feeling. I can’t be any happier. I held in there the last two days but it certainly wasn’t easy.”
Wetterich, one of the bigger hitters on Tour, did most of his damage on the four par-5s this week.
“The key to this golf course is playing those holes well,” he said after chalking up 14 birdies and a pair of pars. “I played them really well. You can miss a couple fairways and get away with it sometimes. I hit a lot of good, long drives out there.”
Wetterich led by three after 36 holes and started the final round with a two-stroke advantage over a host of challengers. The 2006 EDS Byron Nelson Championship winner was three-under for the day after a birdie at No. 12 and led by three but consecutive bogeys and a birdie by Echavarria, two groups in front, knotted things at 12-under.
“I hit the clubs I wanted to on those holes, I just wound up in some bad spots,” said the winner. “I had no idea where he was on the board.”
Wetterich, a USA Ryder Cup team member in 2006, handled the pressure with ease. He stuffed a sand wedge to within a foot at the 445-yard, 15th and regained the lead.
“I used to be terrible at getting rid of the bad shots,” he said. “I’m getting better at it.”
Echavarria, the Gators’ 23-year old captain, opened with an eagle on the first hole and was able to put consistent pressure on the leader during the windy final round. He missed birdie putts of 10 and 12 feet on his final two holes and then had to wait and see if Wetterich would falter.
“It was fun to have a chance to win a Nationwide Tour event, especially with a player (Wetterich) that I grew up watching,” said Echavarria, who got permission from his coach to skip the team event and play on his own. “It’s amazing. I had a pretty good shot and missed a couple of short putts but it’s golf, it happens. I’m really pleased with my result.”
Everybody seemed pleased for various reasons.
• Wetterich returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in several years and collected $90,000 in the process;
• Echavarria proved himself on a much larger stage as he prepares for the upcoming Southeastern Conference and NCAA Championships;
• Dickerson birdied the final two holes to finish solo third and collect Echavarria’s second-place money, which should help in the season-long money race;
• Kimbell, a Monday qualifier, posted a career-low round and may have gained some much-needed, early season momentum;
• Paulson, who missed the better part of five years on Tour with back problems, not only made his first cut since 2005 but also collected his first top-10 finish since a T5 at the 2002 Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic.
• The Nationwide Tour will move to northern California in two weeks for the Fresh Express Classic at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward April 11-17.
With his win today — Brett Wetterich
• Earns his third Nationwide Tour title in his 61st career start
2011 Chitimacha Louisiana Open
2004 Envirocare Utah Championship
2003 Chitimacha Louisiana Open
• Wins at the age of 37 years, 7 months 18 days
• Wins on the Nationwide Tour for the first time since the 2004 Envirocare Utah Classic — a span of 6 years, 6 months and 28 days.
• Wins for the first time since the 2006 EDS Byron Nelson Championship on the PGA TOUR.
• Has made 112 starts on the PGA TOUR and earned $6,517,227 since his last win on the PGA TOUR.
• Becomes the ninth player in Nationwide Tour history to win the same event twice:
Brett Wetterich 2003, 2011 Chitimacha Louisiana Open
Vance Veazey 2005, 2009 Panama Digicel Championship
Brad Elder 1999, 2007 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open
Hunter Haas 2004, 2006 Knoxville Open
Shane Bertsch 2000, 2005 BMW Charity Pro-Am
Peter O’Malley 2002, 2005 ING New Zealand PGA Championship
Pat Bates 1999, 2001 Dakota Dunes Open
Ryan Howison 1997, 1999 Lakeland Classic
Chris Smith 1995, 1997 Omaha Classic
• Is now 3-for-3 when holding/sharing the third-round lead on the Nationwide Tour
2003 Chitimacha Louisiana Open led by 2 shot 70 won by 3
2004 Envirocare Utah Open led by 2 shot 71 won by 1
2011 Chitimacha Louisiana Open led by 2 shot 69 won by 1
• Becomes the sixth of the past nine 54-hole leaders who have gone on to win the tournament — Brett Wetterich, 2003; Ryan Hietala, 2005; Skip Kendall, 2007; Gavin Coles, 2008; Bubba Dickerson, 2009; Brett Wetterich, 2011.
• Collects a first-place check for $90,000
• Sunday’s weather: Partly cloudy. High of 82.. Winds SW-SE 6-12 mph.
• Jeff Klauk played as a single this morning and posted a 1-under 70. He played in 2:58, finishing at 10:23 a.m.
• University of Florida senior Andres Echavarria finished second this week but because he is an amateur, he collects no money. Bubba Dickerson, a former Gator, finished third but collected second-place money.
• Carl Paulson birdied three of his final four holes today for a 4-under 67 and a 10-under 274 total. Paulson finished T4, his first top-10 finish since a T5 at the 2002 Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic and his best since he was T4 at THE PLAYERS Championship in 2002.
• John Kimbell’s 10-under 61 was one shy of the course record. Brenden Pappas carded an 11-under 60 in the first round in 2007.
• John Kimbell’s 61 today was a career-best for him on the Nationwide Tour. He previously had posted a score of 64 six different times, the most recent coming in the third round of the 2010 Albertsons Boise Open.
• John Kimbell had an eagle and nine birdies today en route his 10-under 61. Kimbell had recorded only eight birdies over his first 54 holes (along with eight bogeys).
• John Kimbell’s 61 today was the best final-round score in tournament history. The previous best was a 62 by Stan Utley in 1995.
• With Andres Echavarria’s second-place finish today, Daniel Summerhays remains as the only amateur ever to win a Nationwide Tour event. Summerhays won the 2007 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, while still a student at Brigham Young University. Here are the best finishes by amateur since 1990:
1 Daniel Summerhays 2007 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational
P2 Jamie Lovemark 2007 Rochester (MN) Area Charities Showdown at Somerby
P2 Rickie Fowler 2008 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational
2 Andres Echavarria 2011 Chitimacha Louisiana Open
T2 Charles Howell III 2000 Greensboro Open
3 Sergio Garcia 1998 Greensboro Open
5 Michael Combs 1991 Tri-Cities Open
• The 485-yard, 14thhole was unusually generous this week, giving up a total of 30 birdies. The hole played as the second-toughest par-4 on the Nationwide Tour last year and allowed only 16 birdies for the week. There were 15 birdies registered there on Thursday alone. The hole was switched from a par-5 to a par-4 in 2006 and the most birdies in any single week the previous five years was 28 in 2007.
• Ryan Armour closed out both the front nine and the back nine with three consecutive birdies today. Armour shot a 7-under 64 and finished T13.
• Leading money-winner Brenden Pappas posted a 7-under 64 today to wind up at 5-under 279 and T25.