LSU roommates Loupe, Peterson sharing first TOUR seasonAndrew Loupe (right) congratulated John Peterson after Peterson won the 2011 NCAA Championship.November 12, 2013
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
SAN MARTIN, Calif. – John Peterson always had the same question when he’d see his college coach on the course. “What’s Loupe shooting?” he’d ask, referring to his LSU teammate, Andrew Loupe.
The roommates were rivals dating back to elementary school.
“For four years, that was the first thing John would ask me,” the coach, Chuck Winstead, said. “He wanted to beat him.”
Now they’re sharing their first season as PGA TOUR members. Loupe waited until the Finals’ finale to clinch his PGA TOUR card without a shot to spare.
Peterson was the Web.com Tour Finals’ leading money winner after finishing in the top five in all four events. That accomplishment earned him a spot in THE PLAYERS Championship. He's had past success in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. His first college victory came at the 2009 John Hayt Invitational at Sawgrass Country Club, which is across the street from PLAYERS host TPC Sawgrass.
There’s a lot to learn in that first TOUR season; players must navigate new towns and courses and grow accustomed to golf at the highest level. Having a friend on the road can only make the adjustment easier. They played a practice round with veterans Fred Funk and John Senden before their first event of the 2013-14 season, the Frys.com Open, seeking sage advice from the two former TOUR winners while goading each other about bad shots.
“We’ve battled back and forth for years,” Peterson said. “To do it on the same tour, and have it be the PGA TOUR, is a huge plus. It’s crazy how much I want him to win, but how much I want to beat him, too.”
Peterson, 24, has played three events this season, missing two cuts and finishing 21st at the Frys.com Open; he isn't in the field for this week's OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Loupe will make his second start of the 2013-14 season this week; he missed the cut in his debut at the Frys.com Open.
Loupe, who's 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, is the raw, athletic talent. He was an all-state basketball player in high school – averaging 21.6 points per game in his senior season; that strength and speed helped him finish second on the Web.com Tour in driving distance (315.2 yards per tee shot) in 2013.
Peterson, who finished fourth at last year’s U.S. Open, is known for laser-straight ballstriking; he led the Web.com Tour in greens hit in regulation (75.0 percent). That skill was developed at Colonial Country Club, aka Hogan’s Alley. Peterson played there after his family moved from Baton Rouge, La., to Fort Worth, Texas, when Peterson was 12.
The two friends lost touch when Peterson moved to Texas, except when they’d occasionally cross paths at junior tournaments. They reunited at LSU, where they were roommates for three years and became “like brothers,” Peterson said. Both still live in Baton Rouge.
They turned pro in 2011 after All-American careers at LSU. Loupe was an honorable-mention selection, while Peterson, the NCAA individual champion, was a first-teamer and one of the world’s top 10 amateurs. There was a time, though, when Loupe’s presence led Peterson to look directly for the second-place trophy. They were constant competitors in Baton Rouge between the ages of 9 and 12.
“He used to annihilate me,” Peterson said. “I’m shooting 84, he’s coming with 72 as a 10-year-old. You’re like, ‘This kid is cheating. He can’t be this good. Why doesn’t he turn pro?’ ”
Loupe, a lifelong Baton Rouge resident, first broke 70 when he was 12 years old. He said he inherited his athletic genes from his mother, Gayle, a standout track-and-field athlete and basketball player in high school. She won the club championship at Baton Rouge's Country Club of Louisiana while pregnant with Andrew, he said. His father, Jack , introduced him to golf; Andrew remembers hitting balls in the family’s backyard with a lob wedge. Trees were targets in what he called “around-the-house golf.”
“I broke countless windows,” said Loupe, who won two state golf championships in high school. TOUR player Patrick Reed, winner of the 2013 Wyndham Championship, was Loupe’s main high-school rival.
Winstead instructed both Loupe and Peterson while he was the director of instruction at Baton Rouge’s University Club. He became LSU’s head golf coach in 2005; the pair highlighted his first recruiting class. Peterson may have been the team’s star in his senior season, but he was a bit slower to pick up the game.
In light of Peterson’s collegiate success, Winstead can laugh about the swing he helped Peterson fix.
“When he was 10, John may have been the worst junior on the range at the University Club,” Winstead said. An improper grip and reverse pivot caused Peterson to hit a weak fade. “From the grip, to the pivot, to the plane, you name it, we re-built it. It was a complete overhaul. I give him a lot of credit for having the discipline to do all the drills at that age. A lot of 10- and 11-year-olds wouldn't have done them.”
Peterson was behind the 18th green to congratulate Loupe after he made a mandatory 6-foot putt on the Web.com Tour Championship’s final hole; it was the third time Loupe made a 6-footer on the final hole of a tournament to advance closer to a TOUR card.
He shot a final-round 64, the low round of the day by three shots, at q-school’s second stage in 2012 to advance to final stage without a shot to spare; making q-school’s finals guaranteed him Web.com Tour status for 2013.
He arrived at the final event of the Web.com Tour’s Regular Season, the Cox Classic presented by Lexus of Omaha, at No. 86 on the money list; the top 75 would qualify for the Web.com Tour Finals, the only avenue to PGA TOUR cards. He finished 12th at the Cox to leap to 70th on the money list. Loupe’s sixth-place finish at the season finale, the Web.com Tour Championship, came after missing the cut in the first three Web.com Tour Finals.
“It’s why you play,” Loupe, 24, said of those pressure situations. “It’s nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t get any more fun than having the ball in your hand at the end of the game.”
Those dramatics not only earned him a TOUR card, but let him play his first season alongside his closest friend.