Ellis, Peterson in front at Chitimacha Louisiana OpenMarch 21, 2013
By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour staff
BROUSSARD, La. – Local favorite John Peterson and 42-year old Danny Ellis matched 6-under-par 65s Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, the first domestic stop on the Web.com Tour’s 2013 schedule.
Peterson, who played college golf at nearby Louisiana State, was among the last to finish in the morning and rolled in 10-foot birdie putt to move into temporary possession of the lead.
“Anytime you get to play in front of hometown fans it’s always nice,” said Peterson, who bought a house in Baton Rouge last year and is commuting the 50 miles each way. “This close to home is a treat. To be in a tournament this close, and a big tournament that means something is really cool.”
Ellis, who has bounced around the mini tours for the past several years, chalked up seven birdies during his trip around the Le Triomphe CC course and grabbed a piece of the lead – the first time in his 83 Web.com Tour starts he’s held or shared a lead after any single round.
“I just tried to keep it simple,” said Ellis, who tied for third here in 2005. “This course plays fast all the time. It’s kind of crucial that you get the ball in the fairway. I wasn’t trying to pick specific holes to try and make birdies. I just putted great today.”
Ellis made a couple of birdies in the 20-foot range but nothing crazy like Peterson, who rolled one in from 65 to 70 feet on the par-3, third hole.
“I think I made the longest putt of my life,” he said. “When I was over that putt I was thinking that 2013 was the year of the bomb. It was just crazy.”
Chasing the leaders are Ben Martin, rookie Ryan Spears and Australia’s Nick Flanagan – all tied at 5-under 66.
Another 15 players are knotted together with 4-under 67s.
Lurking three shots off the pace are 13 more players – including John Daly, two-time Chitimacha winner Brett Wetterich, and Kevin Kisner, winner of the Chile Classic in Santiago two weeks ago.
That makes 33 players piled up within three shots of each other and a total of 47 within four of the lead.
First-Round Notes & Quotes:
-- Thursday weather: Sunny skies. Wind SE 10-20 mph. High of 70.
-- Peterson, 23, made six cuts in nine starts on the PGA TOUR in 2012. His only top-25 finish came at the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Peterson opened with rounds of 71-70 and was paired with fellow LSU alum David Toms for the third round when he aced the par-3, 13th hole. A final-round 70 put him 3-over par and T4, just two shots back of winner Webb Simpson.
His money earned in the event was enough to gain him conditional status on the Web.com Tour this year. He has finished T28, T36 and T16 in his first three starts this year and is No. 37 on the money list.
-- Ellis has made 113 career starts on the PGA TOUR but none since 2007. Ellis has four career top-10s on TOUR, his last coming at the 2006 Zurich Classic of New Orleans (T7).
Ellis missed the cut in his first two starts this year at the Panama Claro Championship and the Colombia Championship in Bogota.
-- Ellis is making his seventh career start in this event. His best effort was a T3 in 2005 and then finished T44 in ’06. He missed the cut in his other four starts.
-- The first three tournament winners in 2013 are competing this week:
Panama Claro Championship Kevin Foley 72; Colombia Championship Patrick Cantlay 71; Chile Classic Kevin Kisner 68
-- Clemson University has a defined presence on the first-round leaderboard as Ellis (65/T1), Ben Martin (66/T3) and D.J. Trahan (67/T6) all played for the Tigers.
-- Brian Duncan, who also played in college at Clemson, held a share of the lead during the afternoon before faltering with two bogeys and a double bogey in his final six holes. Duncan was 6 under after only seven holes, thanks to eagle-3s at the par-5 first and seventh holes. He ended the day at 2-under 69.
-- Rookie Ryan Spears (66) missed out on his second career hole-in-one when his ball flew in and then out of the cup at the par-3, 11th hole.
Spears’ 6-iron “never left the flag” and crashed into the back of the hole before bouncing back out and stopping six inches from the cup.
“They said I was robbed,” he said. “My ball landed in the back of the cup, where the plastic sits and shot out that whole side of the hole. They had to come out and fix it. I destroyed the hole. It was weird but you can’t be too mad with a tap-in birdie.”
-- Joe Durant, Randall Hutchison, Ben Martin and Troy Merritt each hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation.
-- Veteran Chris DiMarco fired a 6-over 77 today in the opening round – his first on the Web.com Tour since the conclusion of the 1997 season.
DiMarco, 44, has been a full-time member of the PGA TOUR for the past 15-plus years. DiMarco’s last start came at the Tour Championship at Grand National GC in Opelika, Ala. in October of ’97 -- a span of 15 years, 5 months and 1 day.
DiMarco finished T5 (1993) and T15 (1997) in his only two previous starts at Le Triomphe.
Here are some PGA TOUR-related numbers for DiMarco since he last played on the Web.com Tour: 425 starts 1388 rounds 3 wins 58 top-10s 295 cuts made $22,164,303 earned.
His career wins came at the 2000 SEI Pennsylvania Classic, the 2001 Buick Challenge (playoff) and the 2002 Phoenix Open.
DiMarco has made one start on the PGA TOUR in 2013 and missed the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
-- Mike Standly, 48, also returned to the Web.com Tour after a lengthy layoff. Standly last start was a missed cut at the 2008 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open.
Standly’s only career win came at the 1993 Freeport-McMoRan Golf Classic. Over the years, Standly has seven previous starts in this event with his best finish a T5 in 2000. He shot a 6-over 77 Thursday.
-- Also making his first start on Tour in several years was Trahan, who posted a 4-under 67 and is tied for sixth.
“I didn’t hit it great today but I scored well,” he said. “The wind picked up and I misplayed it a little bit. It was a good day with the putter and I’m excited with the way things are going. Obviously I’d like to hit the ball better tee to green.”
Trahan played one full season on the Web.com Tour in 2004 and won the Miccosukee Championship, beating Nick Watney by two strokes in Miami.
Trahan finished T7 in this event in 2004, his only previous start at Le Triomphe.
“The greens are pretty quick and if the wind blows they won’t be easy to putt in the wind,” he said. “It’s out there but I think 15 or 16-under is a realistic number for the week. Twenty would be great and probably would win the tournament.”
Some PGA TOUR-related numbers for Trahan since his last appearance on the Web.com Tour:
236 starts 721 rounds 2 wins 26 top-10s 132 cuts made $9,343,477 earned.
Trahan’s two wins came at the 2006 Southern Farm Bureau Classic (playoff) and the 2008 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He wound up No. 135 on the PGA TOUR money list last year.
“It’s been 10 years but that doesn’t matter. You’re playing where you’re playing,” he added. “Sure, I’d rather be playing at Bay Hill this week, who wouldn’t? There isn’t a guy in this field who wouldn’t want to be at Bay Hill. It’s one of those things where I have to pick myself back up. I fell down off the horse and I’ve got to get back up on it. That’s what I’m working towards now. The reality of it is you’re here, so you need to pick yourself up.”
In 2013, Trahan has made two cuts in four PGA TOUR starts, with a T8 at the Puerto Rico Open a few weeks ago.
Course statistics for the week
Chitimacha Front (36) Back (35) Total (71) Round 1 35.597 35.944 71.542
Six past tournament champions are in the field this week:
Place 2003, 2011
Brett Wetterich 68 T22 2009 Bubba Dickerson 71 T60 2008 Gavin Coles 72 T79 2007 Skip Kendall 71 T60 2005 Ryan Hietala 72 T79 2001 Paul Claxton 72 T79
66 – Ben Martin
67 – Michael Letzig, Andrew Svoboda
69 – Byron Smith
-- This is the 22nd year that Le Triomphe CC has been host to the tournament. Only two other courses – Highland Springs CC/Price Cutter Charity Championship and Hillcrest CC/Albertsons Boise Open – have had longer continuous runs on the Web.com Tour.