BROUSSARD, La. -- The calendar may read March 29, 2009, in the rest of the world, but things will be a little different in these south central Louisiana parts on Sunday when the fourth round of the $550,000 Louisiana Open presented by Dynamic Industries gets under way.
|Inside the Numbers|
Call it Anything Can Happen Day because that's the final-round scenario that presents itself in the chase for the $99,000 first prize at Le Triomphe Country Club. Just check the 54-hole leaderboard and you'll get the drift.
Tight doesn't begin to describe it. The traffic is bunched and jumbled, like an L.A. freeway after a 16-car pile-up.
Speaking of that number, that's how many players will enter the round within three shots of the lead owned by Scott Sterling, a former LSU Tiger and current Baton Rouge resident who cobbled together a bogey-free, 3-under-par 68 Saturday, and Bubba Dickerson, a former U.S. Amateur champion from the University of Florida, who shot 69. The leaders stand at 9-under 204 after 54 holes.
If this was the fall, a battle between a Tiger and a Gator would capture all the attention deep in the heart of this Southeastern Conference hotbed. But there will be no blocking and tackling Sunday, and the final twosome won't be the only game in town. So they will be wary of those in close pursuit.
"It's open for anyone,'' said Steve Allan, 35, an Aussie who is alone in third after moving into contention with a solid 4-under 67. "I think even the guys at 3 and 4 (under) have a chance if they get hot.''
That would be just about anyone. There are 44 players in Allan's range, a fact not lost on the leaders.
"I'll take my chances with the lead anytime,'' said Sterling, 37, who also has conditional status on the PGA TOUR. "But it really is just about anybody's golf tournament.''
Dickerson echoed Sterling's sentiments.
"I shot 64 (Friday) so someone could go super low,'' he said. "But I can't worry about that. I'd just like my putter to get hot tomorrow.''
Saturday broke sunny, bright and chilly, a stark contrast from the wet, humid and warm conditions that dominated the early part of the week. Trouble was, a wicked wind gusting to near 30 mph out of the northwest made club selection a guessing game -- and made it impossible for anyone to break away from the pack.
"You had to figure the scoreboard would look like this, given the conditions,'' said Richard Johnson, the 2007 Nationwide Player of the Year, who is in a four-way tie for fourth with Vance Veazey and Nationwide Tour rookies Drew Laning and Jonas Blixt, at 7 under. "There were a lot of holes today where you were just playing to make par.''
That was just fine with Allan, who has improved every round. His numbers -- 70, 68, 67 -- are a welcome sight for a player with conditional status on the PGA TOUR who hasn't broken 70 or made a cut in four attempts.
"It's tough when you're conditional and you know you're only going to get a certain number of starts,'' Allan said. "I think I was trying too hard and putting too much pressure on myself. My goal this week was to relax and enjoy myself. I was determined not to get frustrated if I hit a bad shot or got a bad break. This week has showed me I probably was a little too high strung to start the season.''
That's why Allan set no goals for himself this week and he's taking it easy come, easy go.
"I'm just happy to play on the weekend,'' he said, laughing.
The dew sweepers on Sunday likely will not be in a jovial mood since final-round tee times stretch from 7:41 a.m. until the final pair at 1:30 p.m. The morning forecast calls temperatures hovering around 40 without much let-up from the wind.
"That will make it tough for those guys,'' said Dickerson, who will be searching for his first Nationwide Tour victory.
Sterling figures the day will be tough for one and all, no matter the starting time, if the wind replicates its Saturday performance.
"You better hit it solid in the wind,'' said Sterling, a winner of the 2007 Jacob's Creek Open on the Nationwide Tour. "That's why I don't see anyone blitzing this golf course. I may be wrong, but I really expect a shootout with lots of guys involved. But this is golf, you just never know.''
One thing is certain according to Johnson.
"It should be a fun day,'' he said.
That it should.