Brett Wetterich fired a 1-under-par 70 Saturday and maintained his lead through three rounds of the Nationwide Tour’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open. Wetterich opened the door to his challengers with a couple of late mistakes, and will take a two-stroke advantage into Sunday’s finale at Le Triomphe Country Club.
Wetterich, winner of this event in 2003, is at 11-under 202, two better than 2009 champion Bubba Dickerson (67), Rich Barcelo (68) and Charles Warren (69).
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University of Florida senior Andres Echavarria (70) is alone in fifth, three back. Martin Flores (68) holds down solo sixth at 7 under, four behind.
“I’m definitely leaving with a sour taste today,” said Wetterich, a PGA Tour member this year. “I’m still leading and they’ve got to come catch me. It’s up to me to play good golf and not let them.”
Wetterich was playing very good golf and was 4 under for the day through 14 windy holes and had increased his lead to five strokes when he reached the tee at the par-4 15th hole.
“I made a hiccup there, snap-hooked one out of bounds and it cost me a double bogey. It was a terrible mistake,” said Wetterich, who has hit only 16 of 39 fairways the first three days. “I made another bad tee shot on 18 (water) and it cost me a bogey. Other than that I can’t complain.”
Wetterich continues to rally with his irons. He leads the touarnament in greens in regulation, hitting 14, 16 and 15 in the first three rounds.
“I hit the ball great and did the things I needed to do,” he said. “I just made a bad swing. I was having a good round. It definitely takes some air out of you but today’s over and I’ve still got a two-shot lead.”
Dickerson and Barcelo both rolled in birdie putts at the final hole to reach the clubhouse at 9 under par.
“Brett’s won before, he’s a veteran,” said Barcelo. “I don’t expect him to do much backing up. I just put my head down and knew I needed to make birdies.”
Everybody figured they needed to make more birdies to catch Wetterich, who is making his first Nationwide Tour since playing in this event five years ago.
“As it happened, Brett gave a few back unfortunately at the end there,” said Warren, who was in the final group. “I think he let some guys back in the golf tournament, me included.”
Warren looked like he was out of it when he hooked his tee shot out of bounds on the difficult par-4 14th hole. The mistake led to a triple bogey and dropped him seven back at the time.
“Through 13 holes I couldn’t have drawn up a better round of golf,” said Warren. “Brett was just playing great.”
After putting a 7 on his scorecard, Warren rallied and canned two of four birdie putts he looked at down the stretch.
“I was proud of myself,” he said. “At that point it would have been easy to pack it up without a chance to win.”
--Brett Wetterich holds the tournament 54-hole record at 22 under par back in 2003.
--The largest 54-hole lead in tournament history is six strokes by Robert Garrigus in 2004. Garrigus shot a 6-over 78 on the last day and wound up tied for fifth. Jimmy Walker started the final round eight strokes back that year and carded a 7-under 65 to finish at 16 under and win by one over Rick Price.
--Brett Wetterich (2003) and Bubba Dickerson (2009) are both trying to become the ninth player in Nationwide Tour history to win the same event twice. The last player to accomplish the feat was Vance Veazey, who won the 2005 and 2009 Panama Digicel Championship.
--Joe Affrunti (75-215) withdrew after the third round was completed.
--In Brett Wetterich’s only PGA Tour victory, the 2006 EDS Byron Nelson Championship, has was one stroke back of co-leaders Trevor Immelman and Adam Scott after 54 holes. Wetterich shot a 2-under 68 in the final round and won by one shot.
--Five of the past eight 54-hole leaders in this event have gone on to win the tournament: Brett Wetterich, 2003; Ryan Hietala, 2005; Skip Kendall, 2007; Gavin Coles, 2008; Bubba Dickerson, 2009.
--Three champions in tournament history have held the outright lead after the second and third rounds -- R.W. Eaks in 1993, John Wilson in 1998 and Skip Kendall in 2007 -- and Wetterich is trying to become the fourth.
--The best round of the day was a 5-under 66 turned in by Dodge Kenner, who was in the first pairing off the first tee. Kenner, a Monday qualifier, was bogey-free on his round and completed his day more than two full hours before the final twosome teed off.
--The 13th and 14th holes are proving to be the toughest stretch on the golf course. The holes currently rank as hardest and second-hardest holes this week. The 13th, which plays to 446 yards, has a scoring average of 4.462. The 14th, which measures 485 yards, has a scoring average of 4.354. Both holes typically play into the wind.
--The 485-yard 14th hole has regained its bite the past two days. The hole, which was the second-toughest par 4 on the Nationwide Tour last year, yielded only two birdies Saturday after giving up six in Friday’s round. There were a single-day, record-high 15 birdies there on Thursday when the hole played straight downwind.