Mar 19, 2013 4:20 PM by McD Media
A total of 14 players made their way into the field through Monday qualifying events held at two Lafayette municipal facilities, and Andrew Noto beat the odds to grab one of the coveted spots in the field for this week's $550,000 Chitimacha Louisiana Open.
The former UL standout posted a six-under-par 66 on Monday at Les Vieux Chenes to grab one of the seven slots available at Les Vieux Chenes, and will be in the 9:30 a.m. group off the No. 10 tee Thursday when the 144-player field tees it up at Le Triomphe Golf & Country Club.
"This was my first one of the year," Noto said, "so it's a great way to start out. It means a lot to qualify back here in the town that I played college."
Noto, who turned pro just after finishing his Ragin' Cajun career last spring with a second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, had six birdies and no bogeys. The Luling product rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th that got him to six-under - a right-to-left breaker that he knew he needed.
"I knew 66 wouldn't leave me in a bad spot ... at least get me in a playoff," he said, "and as it turned out making that one was a game-changer. It caught the left lip and went in."
Noto was one of 139 players gunning to make the field at Les Vieux Chenes. The Wetlands had another 140 trying to qualify, meaning that 279 players were competing for the final 14 spots in the field.
Noto was also in the early-morning wave of players, so he had to wait all day to find out his fate. A po-boy lunch at Olde Tyme Grocery with friend and fellow pro Chris Brown of Garland, Texas - who got in with a 65 - filled some of the time.
"After the morning there were seven guys at 66 or better, so you don't know," he said. "If you're in the morning, it's post a number and wait. I just relaxed all day, headed back out there around five and waited around, and before I knew it I got the word."
Nobody at Les Vieux Chenes matched those morning scores, so no playoff was necessary. In fact, no playoff was needed at The Wetlands, either - a rarity on the Tour.
Noto tried to Monday qualify for the Open two previous times while at UL, missing by two shots as a junior and three as a senior. Now he's in, and playing a course he's familiar with from his collegiate days.
"Actually, I haven't played here since last May, before the NCAA's," he said. "It plays pretty different from what I've heard, and obviously I haven't played it when it's set up like this. But there's absolutely a sense of familiarity."
MONDAY QUALIFIERS: Noto and Brown were joined as Les Vieux Chenes qualifiers by Mathias Gronberg of Stockholm, Sweden, and Joshua Brock of Wilmington, N.C. at seven-under 65 and Todd Baek of San Diego, Calif., Tom Hoge of Fargo, N.D., and Roger Tambellini of Scottsdale, Ariz., at six-under 66.
Blayne Barber of Auburn, Ala., posted a six-under 66 for the top score at The Wetlands, and six others carded 67 to claim the other spots - Matt Hendrix of Greenville, S.C., Niklas Lemke of Gothenburg, Sweden, Brendan Pappas of McKinney, Texas, Will Strickler of Dallas, Mark Walker of Hurst, Texas, and John Hurley of Spring, Texas.
DALY WATCH: John Daly, who committed to play in the Open one week ago, is scheduled to play in Wednesday's Nacher Corporation Pro-Am which tees off at 8 a.m.
Daly, one of the most recognizable figures in golf and a two-time major championships winner, figures to draw one of the biggest galleries when he tees off at 9 a.m. Thursday off No. 10 to start championship play.
"He's the most well-known personality ever in our field," said Open executive director Danny Jones. "He's creating a buzz that we sometimes don't have on Thursday and Friday. More than anything, we're hoping that having him here will entice someone who's never been out here to come and give us a shot and see what we're all about."
DALY UP FOR BID: With Daly in the field , Jones said the Open is using the opportunity to raise some additional charity monies. The walking scorer position with Daly's group on Thursday and Friday are up for auction through 8 p.m. Wednesday.
The winning bidder will serve as the group's scorer for his choice of the Thursday or Friday rounds, with the runner-up bidder getting the other day.
"It's a chance to raise a little extra money to put into our charities," Jones said, "and to let a couple of people get a rare experience."
Bids may be submitted by calling the Open office at (337) 593-8000 or through the tournament's Facebook page.
FIELD CHANGES: Four players who were originally in the field withdrew on Monday and Tuesday. Tour veteran Jeff Klauk, who has played in six PGA Tour events this year and stands 109th on the FedEx Cup list, and Shawn Stefani, the halfway leader who eventually tied for seventh at last week's PGA Tour Tampa Bay Championship, both withdrew as did Champions Tour member Neal Lancaster and rookie pro David Lipsky.
Klauk missed the cut at Tampa Bay and tied for 16th at the earlier Phoenix Open with a 14-under 270 score.
That opened the way for alternates and PGA Tour veterans - and former PGA Tour winners - Nathan Green, Arjun Awtal and Matt Bettencourt to claim spots in the field. Green, a native of New South Wales, Australia, played seven years on the PGA Tour from 2006-12, winning the RBC Canadian Open in 2009.
Atwal, a native of India now living in Windermere, Fla., was a PGA Tour member for eight years between 2004-12 and won the 2010 Wyndham Championship. Bettencourt, from Duncan, S.C., was on the PGA Tour from 2009-12 and won the 2010 Reno-Tahoe Open. The other addition to the field is two-time Web.com Tour winner Miguel Angel Carballo of Bahia Blanca, Argentina.
MASTERS RAFFLE: Troy Gardiner won the Open's annual raffle of a trip to The Masters next month, with the drawing held Sunday during the Cypress Bayou Casino & Hotel $1 Million Hole-in-One Challenge.
Gardiner won two passes to both the Tuesday and Wednesday practice rounds, two four-day passes for the tournament, use of a house for the week and $2,000 for travel expenses.
PARKING: The Open is using a new location for public parking this one, one much closer to the heart of the Le Triomphe course than the parking location in previous years. All parking - tournament staff, VIP, sponsors and the general public - is in the front field to the right of Le Triomphe's main gate, the same area that is used for qualifying for the $1 Million Hole-in-One Challenge.
There is a $5 fee for parking that does directly to Civitan Club charities. Shuttles will be available to bring fans to the clubhouse area, but it's also only a short walk from parking to the eighth and ninth holes.
UPCOMING: Along with the 8 a.m. Nacher Corporation Pro-Am, the Knight Oil Tools Boy Scout Pro-Am is set for 1:15 p.m. Wednesday. Along with Daly, other notables in the morning pro-am are Lafayette's Michael Smith and Brian Rowell and Baton Rouge's Scott Sterling. The afternoon pro-am will feature former Louisiana Open champions Brett Wetterich (2003 and 2011), Gavin Coles (2008) and ex-Lafayette resident Ryan Hietala (2005), along with former LSU standout and NCAA individual champion John Peterson.
Championship competition begins Thursday at 7:40 a.m. off both the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. The 144-player field will be cut to the low 60 and ties for the weekend's final two rounds.