Leeth put his 5-iron four feet and seven inches from the pin on Le Triomphe's difficult 180-yard par-three eighth hole Sunday, besting 54 other competitors and winning the $1,000 top prize in the annual event that kicks off Chitimacha Louisiana Open activities.
"It felt good," Leeth said of his winning shot. "I didn't embarrass myself, which was the biggest thing I was worried about."
The eight-handicapper proved that it doesn't take knowledge of the hole to come up with a winning shot in the finals. Leeth, in fact, had only played the Le Triomphe course one time previously, that coming in a charity event held immediately after last year's Louisiana Open.
But as the 36th player to tee off in the event, Leeth's 5-iron was aimed at the pin from the start, rolling just to the right side of the cup – tantalizingly close to the $1 million payoff which goes to a player holing out in the finals.
"It was on line ... it was pretty much exactly the way I played it," said the 53-year-old Leeth, who moved to Lafayette from Lake Charles only a year ago and has never previously participated in the Hole-in-One Shootout. "It just leaked past the hole a little."
Leeth, who has never recorded an ace in his 19 years of golf, led three players who took cash prizes from the Open for their finishes. Jay Chauvin of Boyce finished second with a shot nine feet, 10 inches from the pin, while Josh Arnold of Broussard finished third at 10 feet, 3 inches. Chauvin and Arnold were both among the first 15 players to hit on the wind-swept hole Sunday afternoon.
Players in the finals had qualified through various means over the previous three weekends, with qualifying held on par-three holes at six different Lafayette Parish courses, on a target hole in front of the Le Triomphe main gate and indoors on the PGA Tour Simulator at The Golf Connection retail outlet in Lafayette.
This year’s Hole-In-One Shootout was conducted by and benefitted the Animal Rescue Foundation of Louisiana (ARF-LA), an all-volunteer non-profit animal rescue and adoption group dedicated to improving the lives and welfare of homeless dogs. More information on ARF is available online at www.arf-la.org.
Chitimacha Louisiana Open activities continue Monday with the Dwight Andrus Insurance Pro-Am at 9 a.m. at Le Triomphe. After player practice rounds on Tuesday, the Nacher Corporation Pro-Am and the Knight Oil Tools Boy Scout Pro-Am are Wednesday at 8 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. respectively. Championship play runs Thursday-Sunday in the $550,000 Web.com Tour event being held at Le Triomphe for the 22nd straight year. Tickets are $10 for daily passes and are available through the Open at (337) 593-8000 or at the parking gate beginning Thursday morning.
TOP FINISHERS -- Cypress Bayou Casino & Hotel $1 Million Hole-in-One Challenge
Brian Leeth, Lafayette 4' 7"
Jay Chauvin, Boyce 9' 10"
Josh Arnold, Broussard 10' 3"