Wrap-up: Blaum, Reifers share lead in Louisiana
March 27, 2014
- Kyle Reifers fired a 6-under 65 to grab a share of the first-round lead. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour staff
BROUSSARD, La. – Ryan Blaum and Kyle Reifers took advantage of some early tee times to post 6-under 65s Thursday and share the first-round lead in the 23rd Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Nacher.
Winds were steady most of the day at the Le Triomphe Country Club outside of Lafayette but the co-leaders, and those in the morning half of the day, didn’t have to battle the additional nuisance of afternoon rains. Stronger storms never materialized but officials decided to play the round under lift, clean and place conditions.
Morning starters Fabian Gomez, the 2010 champion, Doug LaBelle II and Jeff Curl posted 66s and are one back along with veteran Glen Day. Monday qualifier Ryan Baca of Sugar Land, Texas, is also at 5-under par but couldn’t beat the darkness and will have to return in the morning to putt out at 17 and then play the 18th.
Among those tied for 8th at 4-under 67 is Colombia’s Andres Echavarria, who was a senior at the University of Florida and runner-up in 2011 while playing as an amateur.
“I’m very satisfied. I haven’t gotten off to a very good start this year,” said Blaum, who has missed two cuts in his first four starts this season. “I’ve been hitting the ball well but not really scoring.”
This was the first time in 2014 the former Duke standout managed to break par in the opening round.
“Hitting the greens is one thing but hitting greens in certain proximity to the hole is another,” he said.
Maybe the proximity to being ‘home’ has something to do with it. Blaum’s mother grew up in Alexandria, about 90 miles away. His parents both attended LSU where his father, Steve, played defensive back for the Tigers and his younger brother, Brent, played on the golf team from 2006-10.
“I’m the one guy who didn’t go to LSU but this is a blast this week,” said Blaum, who is hoping to make the drive to Alexandria to see his grandparents. “I grew up eating Cajun food. My favorite meal is when my mom makes shrimp creole and jambalaya.”
Reifers was also steady, hitting 16 greens in regulation while assuming a share of the top spot.
“There’s some considerable wind out there and at times it’s a couple of clubs,” he said. “You just have to play for it. I played solid all day. Even my two bogeys were pretty good shots and pretty good putts. You have to have the mindset not to let those affect you.”
Reifers rallied with a couple of birdies at Nos. 7 and 8 to join Blaum, who vaulted to the top with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch.
“I’ve been here enough years that I’ve played in all kinds of wind conditions so I think I’ve got a pretty good feel for what to hit,” said Reifers, who finished T2 in 2010. “The greens are pretty quick and you almost have to play for a little wind on some of the putts.”
Blaum, Reifers share lead on Thursday at Chitimacha Louisiana Open
First-Round Notes & Quotes:
• Thursday weather: Cloudy skies. Winds SE 15-20 mph. Daytime high of 68, overnight low of 52.
• In anticipation of possible thunderstorms, the first round was played under lift, clean and place conditions.
• A total of five players were not able to complete play due to darkness. Play was halted at 7:15 p.m. Those players will resume the round at 8:30 Friday morning.
• Round two is scheduled to begin on time at 7:40 a.m. Friday.
• Co-leaders Blaum and Reifers are both 30 years old and were born three days apart. Reifers was born Oct. 13, 1983 in Columbus, Ohio and Blaum Oct. 16th in Miami, Florida.
• Blaum was a two-time All-America selection at Duke and the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006. Blaum attended Westminster Christian HS in Miami.
• Blaum finished the season No. 1 on the NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order or Merit to claim the Roberto De Vicenzo Award and earn fully-exempt status on the Web.com Tour for 2014. His campaign included two victories, two runner-up finishes, seven top-10 efforts and 10 cuts made in 13 starts. Earned $99,135 in prize money to finish $752 ahead of No. 2, Mexico’s José de Jesús Rodríguez
• Blaum ran off six birdies in seven holes starting at No. 15 and ending at No. 3.
• Blaum opened the year with a T29 finish at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship and then was T42 at the Chile Classic. He missed the cut in his last two starts at the Brasil Champions and last week’s Panama Claro Championship.
• Reifers is making his 141st career start on the Web.com Tour. He finished T3 at the Chile Classic and then missed the cut the following week at the Brazil Champions in Sao Paulo.
• Reifers’ lone win on Tour came in his first career start at the 2006 Chattanooga Classic. Shortly after graduating from Wake Forest Univeristy, Reifers turned pro and promptly won two weeks later, thanks to an 11-under 61 in the final round at Black Creek Club. He finished at 26-under and defeated Brandt Snedeker in a playoff.
• Fabian Gomez earned his first career title at the 2010 Chitimacha Louisiana Open, where he fired a final-round, 7-under 64 to win by six strokes, the largest winning margin in tournament history.
• Josh Broadaway recorded his first competitive hole-in-one as a professional when he aced the 170-yard, 8thhole using a 6-iron.
“It was kind of dark and I heard it hit the pin,” he said. “I never saw the ball come out and bounce anywhere and then some people around the green started yelling a bit.”
Broadaway’s ball hit the front of hole on the fly and slightly damaged the grass, which an official repaired. It was his eighth career ace. His only other competitive hole-in-one came during a college tournament.
• Rookie Daniel Berger, who has improved his finish each week, stumbled to a 9-over-par 80 today that included only one birdie. Berger, 20, who left Florida State after two standout seasons, has finished T29, T12, T7 and T3 in his four starts this year and entered the week No. 7 on the money list.
• Players who posted bogey-free rounds this week:
R1 – 67- Andres Echavarria; 68 - T.J. Vogel; 70 – Bubba Dickerson