Blanks wins playoff at Chitimacha Louisiana Open
March 31, 2014
By Joe Chemycz, PGATOUR.COM
- Kris Blanks (left) is congratulated by Brett Stegmaier after a three-hole playoff. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
BROUSSARD, La. – Kris Blanks rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole to beat Brett Stegmaier and win the 23rd Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Nacher. Blanks and Stegmaier were tied at 14-under 270 after four trips around the Le Triomphe Country Club course and had halved the par-4 18th hole with pars the first two times they played it.
Blanks stuffed a 7-iron to birdie range on the third try and after Stegmaier missed his birdie attempt from 60 feet the Jupiter, Fla., resident rolled in his birdie to cap off a long day of waiting and earn his second career title.
“I kind of knew what the putt was doing and it was just a matter of getting it on line,” said Blanks, who picked up the winner’s check for $99,000. “I just thought the heck with it, let’s try to end this and let everybody go home.”
Blanks started the final round seven shots back of leader Kyle Reifers (70/T3) and vaulted up the leaderboard with a nearly flawless 9-under 62 that gave the field a number to shoot at. His round was so good that the next best score of the day were a quintet of 67s.
“I thought if my number could stay solid until the guys made it to back nine that I’d have a chance,” said Blanks. “There aren’t a lot of birdie holes on the back side. I was going to wait around until somebody got to 15 or 16 under and head on down the road.”
Blanks never got the chance to leave after finishing his round at 1:36 p.m. He was in the 14th of 34 groups and waited and waited and waited. Then he waited some more.
“I didn’t think it was going to hold up,” he said. “The longer we stood around the better my chances got.”
Stegmaier, in the next to last group, turned the front in 4-under and was at minus-15 but bogeyed the 10th and closed with eight straight pars to join Blanks in the fourth playoff in tournament history and the first since 2009.
Reifers rallied late with clutch birdies on the tough 15th and 17th holes to reach 14-under but a wayward bounce on 18 resulted in his tee shot finding the water down the right side and he missed a 15 footer for par to join the Tour’s first playoff of the 2014 season.
“I probably had six putts that wobbled out there,” said Reifers, who putted out nearly 3:20 after Blanks had finished. “Nothing you can do. I hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in. It just wasn’t my day.”
Blanks knows all about that. The 41-year-old Floridian has been on the sidelines for essentially a year and a half dealing with all kinds of shoulder problems. He spent several seasons on Tour and captured his first win at the 2008 Bank of America Open near Chicago before moving on to the PGA TOUR in 2009.
Injuries forced him to withdraw from last year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February and had surgery in March, almost one year to the day.
“It’s been a rough road and I’ll take it,” said Blanks. “Sometimes you never know if you’re going to get back. It’s tough. You sit at home and try to be a dad for a year and a half. It was nice to finish this off in style.”
Ole Miss rookie Jonathan Randolph carded a 4-under 67 that left him one shot back at 13-under and oh so close.
“I caught a lot of lips. I hit a lot of really good putts that didn’t go in,” he said. “I had a number at the start of the day and I really wanted to get to 16. I knew 16 would have a pretty good chance. It was one of those days of what could have been.”
Garth Mulroy, Zach Sucher, Aaron Goldberg, Sebastian Vazquez, Justin Thomas and Steve Saunders all finished 12-under and tied for fifth, two shots back.
NOTES & QUOTES:
• Sunday weather: Mostly sunny. Wind E-Se 6-12 mph. High of 71.
• The ball was played ‘down’ in round four after lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for the first three rounds.
• Blanks collects his second career win in his 71st start on the Web.com Tour. His previous victory came at the 2008 Bank of America Open.
• Blanks collected a first-place check for $99,000 and moved to No. 6 on the Tour money list through five events.
• Blanks came from seven shots off the pace to win, the largest come-from-behind on Tour since Peter Tomasulo rallied from eight shots down with a round of 61 on the final day to win the 2010 Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic.
• Blanks’ comeback matches the third-largest in the tournament’s 23-year history. Stan Utley (1994) and Jimmy Walker (2004) each came from eight shots behind to win.
• Blanks’ 62 matched the low finish by a tournament winner in Lafayette – Stan Utley also shot a 62 (10-under) when he won in 1994.
• Blanks’ win comes at the age of 41 years, 4 months, 28 days.
• Blanks became the second player over 40 to win this year, joining Alex Cejka, winner of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship in that category.
• Blanks’ 9-under 62 today matched his career-best on two fronts. He shot an 8-under 62 in the second round of the 2009 Wyndham Championship. He also carded a 9-under 63 in the first round of the 2008 Chattanooga Classic.
• Blanks’ round of 62 is his best fourth round in 179 combined Tour starts – 108 on the PGA TOUR and 71 on the Web.com Tour.
• Blanks’ 62 is two shots off the Le Triomphe CC course mark of 60 (11-under) set by Brenden Pappas in the first round in 2007.
• This was the fourth time Blanks has played in this event. He missed the cut here in 2005 and 2008 and finished T15 in 2009.
• Blanks missed most of the 2013 season due to should problems. He missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February but was on the shelf the rest of the season. He was eligible to play in the four Web.com Tour Finals events – which he did and made two cuts in four starts.
“The Finals were just knocking the rust off,” he said. “I wasn’t ready to play.”
This year, Blanks has made five PGA TOUR starts and missed the cut in four and withdrew in the other.
• Blanks’ has made 108 career starts on the PGA TOUR and his best finishes are a runner-up effort at the 2010 Puerto Rico Open and a playoff runner-up at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open. Blanks was a full-time member of the TOUR from 2009-12. He previously played on the Web.com Tour in 2005 and 2007-08. His lone win came at the 2008 Bank of America Open near Chicago.
• For Blanks, it came down to putting. He posted even-par scores of 71 in the first and third rounds and had 34 and 33 putts respectively on those days. A second-round 66 required only 27 putts and then he had 25 in the final round. Doing the math – that’s 67 putts to shoot even par in R1 and R3 compared to 52 putts to shoot 14-under in R2 and R4.
• This was the fourth playoff in the tournament’s 23-year history. Other playoff winners were Steven Alker (2002), Skip Kendall (2007) and Bubba Dickerson (2009).
• This was the first playoff of the 2014 Web.com Tour season.
• Stegmaier’s career-best finish was worth $59,400 and moved him to No. 14 on the money list. The former University of Florida standout had missed the cut in his first four starts this year.
“I played good all day,” he said. “This year has been pretty bad for me but I hope I can carry some of this momentum. I’m thrilled how I played this week but I’m still disappointed.”
• Rookie Jonathan Randolph’s T3 finish moved him up 14 spots to No. 15 on the money list. Randolph now has four top-25 finishes in four starts this year including a T14 at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship and a T15 at last week’s Panama Claro Championship.
• Kyle Reifers’ T3 effort also moved him up from No. 21 to No. 13 on the money list. He finished T3 at the Chile Classic and then missed the cut the following week at the Brazil Champions in Sao Paulo.
• This was Reifers’ sixth start in Lafayette. He finished T48, T15, T68 and T2 in his first four starts from 2007-10 but missed the cut last year after posting scores of 72-70.
• 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.
• Alabama All-America Justin Thomas had another solid finish (T5). The 20-year old rookie is currently No. 12 on the money list thanks to four top-15 finishes to begin the season. He started the year with a T5 at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship and followed that up with a T12 at the Chile Classic and a T15 at last week’s Panama Claro Championship.
• Players who posted bogey-free rounds this week:
R1 – 67 - Andres Echavarria; 68 - T.J. Vogel; 70 – Bubba Dickerson
R2 – 64 – Bill Lunde; 65 – Sebastain Vazquez, Bronson Burgoon, Max Homa, Derek Gillespie; 66 – Ash Hall, Philip Pettitt Jr.; 67 – Jason Gore, Chris Epperson, Fabian Gomez
R3 – 65 – Blayne Barber, Brett Stegmaier; 66 – Kyle Reifers, Brett Wetterich; 69 – Hugo Leon, Casey Wittenberg
R4 – 62 – Kris Blanks; 67 – Jonathan Randolph; 68 – Aaron Goldberg
• Best rounds of the day:
62 – Kris Blanks
67 – Ryan Baca, Bronson Burgoon, Matt Davidson, Garth Mulroy, Jonathan Randolph