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Former Golf: Michael Smith’s 2nd Round Story on His 9th Consecutive Louisiana Open

Friday’s Second Round:

The cut line was at two-under par, with 70 players making the cut for the final round that begins at 7:59 a.m., weather permitting since there are forecasts for thunderstorms overnight and during the day Saturday. The final round is set for Sunday with players chasing a $99,000 first prize.

That cut line provided the biggest drama of the day for Acadiana golf fans, with Lafayette’s Michael Smith charging back after an opening four-under 75 Thursday. The former UL standout, playing in his ninth Open and playing on a sponsor exemption, had seven birdies in his Friday round including a run of three straight on the 12th, 13th and 14th holes.

His 25-foot birdie putt on the par-three 16th put him at the two-under cut line and he parred the 17th, but his drive on the 18th hole found the water on the left side. After the penalty stroke, he hit his third shot from behind a tree to 30 feet and slid a par putt by the hole to finish at five-under 66, one stroke from making the cut to the weekend.

“I hit a lot of good shots, a lot of good putts,” said Smith, “It was a tough day, really windy from the time we teed off until the end. To birdie 13 and 14, especially today, good grief. The wind brings in the water on 18, and you have to get it on just the right line. I hit it about 10 yards too far left.”

* * * * * * *  

LOCALS: It was a tough day for Lafayette’s two entries in the Open field on Thursday.

Both Brian Rowell and Michael Smith had promising starts, with Smith birdieing his opening 10th hole and Rowell shooting a two-under 34 on the front side. But Smith ran into trouble the rest of the day and finished with a four-over 75, while Rowell couldn’t get putts to drop on the way to a two-over 73.

Rowell had a 10-foot birdie putt slide by on the 18th hole, and said that was typical of the day.

“I bet I missed 10 putts like that,” he said. “I could’ve easily shot five-under instead of two over. I just couldn’t get it in the hole. I hit it pretty good, just missed all the putts. I made one eight-footer on the fifth, and the last 13 holes I missed everything.”

Smith took a double-bogey six on the “Gator’s Jaw” 13th hole and had four more bogeys in the opening round of his ninth Louisiana Open appearance.

“I hit it a lot better than I scored,” said Smith, who was coming off a tie for third in the APT Tour’s Coca-Cola Open in Alexandria last week. “I just had every bad break imaginable … hitting it under the lip in the bunkers and getting a lot of bad bounces.”

Friday’s Pairings: 

2:05 p.m. – Michael Smith, Lafayette, La.; Jordan Niebrugge, Mequon, Wis.; Manav Shah, Bakersfield, Calif.

 

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Lafayette’s Michael Smith is playing in the Louisiana Open for the ninth straight year, in the field on a sponsor exemption, so he’s been a source of information for players making their first appearance in Acadiana. And it hasn’t just been on-course info.

“I’ve played here probably over 100 times, so I have a high comfort level here for sure,” said Smith, a St. Thomas More graduate and former two-time all-conference player at UL. “I know the golf course and there’s nothing that’s going to catch me off guard here.”

Smith, who played in the 2011 U.S. Open and made the cut in the 2015 Zurich Classic of New Orleans after Monday qualifying, normally plays cross-town at Oakbourne Country Club where he and his family hold membership. But he’s had plenty of experience at Le Triomphe.

“It’s always a situation that it’s tougher with pin placements, and the greens are obviously faster than you’ll see if you come out here on a day-to-day basis,” Smith said. “It looks like a much firmer course than we’ve seen in the past, which is a good thing.”

Smith finished tied for third in the APT Tour (the former Adams Tour) stop in Alexandria last week, posting 68-68-67-66—269 scores in the Coca-Cola/Dr. Pepper Open at Oak Wing, winning $8,225 in his second outing on that tour this year. 

“My game’s in pretty good shape,” he said after recording 20 birdies and only two bogeys in the Alexandria event. “I played pretty well and I feel like I’m in pretty good form.”

Local knowledge extends to giving advice on local cuisine, and one spot in particular, to the rest of this week’s field.

“It depends on what you want to eat,” Smith said, “but I love po-boys so Olde Tyme Grocery is a pretty big favorite for me. That’s the place I’d try to visit. And you have to eat boiled crawfish down here … I’ve never been anywhere where that’s any better than down here. Go order five pounds of crawfish and enjoy.”

PRO-AMS WEDNESDAY: The Testoril Pro-Am and the Dillard Capital Pro-Am are set for Wednesday at 8 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. respectively. Those will be the final chances for players to get on the Le Triomphe course before play begins at 7:20 a.m. Thursday off both the Nos. 1 and 10 tees.

Tickets for championship play are $10 for daily passes and are available at the gate each day.

 

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (events at Le Triomphe unless otherwise indicated)

Wednesday, March 22 Testoril Pro-Am, 8 a.m.; Dillard Capital Pro-Am, 1:15 p.m.

Thursday, March 23     Championship First Round, 7:20 a.m.

Friday, March 24          Championship Second Round, 7:20 a.m.

                                    Field cut to low 60 and ties following second round

Saturday, March 25     Championship Third Round, time TBA

Sunday, March 26        Championship Final Round, time TBA

                                    Trophy and check presentations, 18th green following final round

 March 21, 2017                                CONTACT: Danny Jones, La. Open, 337-593-8000, djones@laopen.com

Dan McDonald, McD Media, 337-857-8754 or 337-654-4161