Etulain wins Chitimacha Louisiana Open
PGA TOUR Latinoamerica alum earns first Tour title with 19-under effort at Le Triomphe
March 25, 2018
By Royce Thompson, PGATOUR.COM
- Julian Etulain moves to No. 5 on the Web.com Tour money list with his victory in Cajun country. (Jared Clemons/PGA TOUR)
BROUSSARD, La. – In 2010, Argentina’s Julian Etulain came to the United States of America with a desire to win golf tournaments in the United States of America. The 29-year-old from Buenos Aires accomplished that goal on Sunday at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by NACHER with a final-round 4-under 67. His 19-under-par 265 total placed him two clear of Taylor Moore.
Justin Lower missed a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to tie Moore, but the solo third was his best performance on the Web.com Tour in 35 starts.
“It’s really big for me,” said Etulain, who won in his 73rd start. “We’ve been working toward this. It was my first time winning in the U.S.A. I hope to win more tournaments here.”
Entering the final round, Etulain was five shots clear of the field but struggled out of the gates. The man they call “Tula” bogeyed the third hole and held a one-stroke advantage on the tee at the par-4 fourth.
“I was a little nervous at the start,” he said. “I’ve never been in that position. When you are leading by five, it feels different. You need to be aggressive but smart.”
Etulain composed himself after the rocky start with a bounce-back birdie at the fourth. He then added birdies at Nos. 7, 10, 11 and 12 to regain command of the tournament.
“I told my coach we needed to win a tournament,” said Etulain, who has nine international victories including four on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. “I’ve never won in the U.S. and now I have.”
All week, the 10-year-pro fielded questions about what happened the last time he was in contention at Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club. In 2016, Etulain carded a final-round 1-under 70 and fell one-shot short of forcing a playoff with Wesley Bryan.
This year was a different story. Etulain started with a 9-under 62 and never looked back. With his victory on Sunday, he became the second player from Argentina to win the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in the 27 year-history of the event.
“Fabian Gomez won here and now me,” said Etulain, who notched the fifth Web.com Tour victory for his country. “It feels good.”
Etulain moves from No. 40 to No. 5 on the Regular Season money list and is in great position to become a two-time Web.com Tour graduate. With a PGA TOUR card within his grasp, the father-of-one isn’t going to take the rest of the season for granted.
“I just need to focus on myself and continue to work on my game,” he said. “I need to keep improving each week.”
With a final-round 8-under 63, Moore recorded his best performance on Tour. The Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada alum surged up the leaderboard with birdies at the final three holes. The solo-second moves the 24-year-old Moore up to No. 9 on the money list. His previous best position was 25th, which came after a tie for 12th at the 2017 Club Colombia Championship during his rookie campaign.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said Moore, who recorded his second-straight top-five of the season. “We still have a long season to go, but it’s a good finish. I’m not going to put too much into it because I have to go play next week, but definitely a good week.”
After a sub-par season in 2017, Lower’s game is heading in the right direction. The 28-year-old from Akron, Ohio made seven cuts in 13 starts and finished No. 153 on the money list. Lower was forced to compete at the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament and ended the week with a birdie on the last hole of the event to move into a tie for 42nd and secure starts into the first eight events of the 2018 season.
“I wish someone would write a book of all the stories that guys have of missing by a shot or making it by a shot,” said Lower, who came out on the right side of the leaderboard in Chandler. “I think it would give people a much better perspective of how tough this actually is, how much time we put into it and how much of a grind it is. Even though it’s a lot of fun, it’s very hard at the same time.”
Lower was emotional after his final-round 7-under-par 64 at Le Triomphe on Sunday afternoon, because it was life changing. The Malone University alum has struggled a few times in his eight years as a pro but has never considered walking away from his dream. The third-place showing in Louisiana was just the second top-10 of Lower’s career.
“You talk about it here and there, but what else are you going to do?” said Lower, who moved to No. 23 on the money list. “You just want to play golf the rest of your life. I sure thought about it, but it was always golf, and I have a great support system.”