Pros ascend to Ellendale for 72-hole pro tournament

Prep baseball rolling through district play
April 5, 2017
Colonels take 2 in Arkansas
April 5, 2017
Prep baseball rolling through district play
April 5, 2017
Colonels take 2 in Arkansas
April 5, 2017

Someone will win a green jacket at the Master’s this weekend, and it will shake the immediate history of professional golf forever.

But that’s several hundred miles away in Augusta, Georgia.

Here in Houma, some aspiring, lesser-known pros will be duking it out, as well, hopeful to earn a title that may set them on a path toward future PGA Tour superstardom.

The Hebert Open will take place this weekend at Ellendale Country Club – a 72-hole event that’s part of the Adams Golf Pro Tour Series – one of the professional tours that sits a few notches below the world-famous PGA Tour.

Several Adams Golf Pro Tour Series alums have made it to the highest level in recent years, most notably Bubba Watson. He won the Houma-based tournament in 2005, sizzling the field in one of his only stops on the Adams Tour.

Today, Watson is a multi-time Major Champion and one of the best players in the world.

Adams Tour Director Kris Neal said the intrigue of the event is exactly that – the ability to watch tomorrow’s stars in a fun, family-friendly setting.

The event is free to spectators. The golfers on the course will be competing for a six-figure purse.

“I think people like our tour, because of how personable it all is,” Neal said during last year’s stop in Houma. “At the big events, there are so many people, and there is so much attention to the top players, and you may just be able to watch them hit one or two shots the whole day. Here, it’s a lot more laid back, and the quality of golf on the course is still awfully good. I think it’s a great family atmosphere and a fun setting to be around.”

The folks with the tour tout that the Houma event is one of the best of the year.

This week’s event will mark the tour’s 14th-straight year coming to Houma, something that Neal said is by design.

“It’s because you guys host a great event,” Neal said.

The golfers agree, touting approval for both the area and the golf course.

Last year, Fort Worth, Texas native Andrew Presley won the event, posting a 16-under score of 272. That was good enough to outlast Dustin Morris (13-under), who was the runner-up.

Presley said Ellender is perfect for an event like this, because it’s challenging, but also fair.

The 2016 champion fired all four rounds under par in his victory, including a final-round, 6-under-par 66.

Presley is scheduled to defend his title this week.

“I think it’s a great golf course,” he said. “I think if you hit good shots, you score, but if you don’t, there’s a lot of trouble that can really affect your score. I think it’s one of the better ones that we play on our tour, and that says a lot, because I think we have some good ones.”

A little jambalaya and a boiled crawfish or two don’t hurt, either.

Neal said the golfers eat like kings during their stay in Louisiana, often filling local restaurants to take their best crack at the local cuisines.

Some of the players on the Adams Tour are full-time golfers, but others are semi-pro – guys who have dreams of the bright lights, but who also have other jobs to help pay the bills along the way.

The food, Neal said, is actually a draw in luring players from out of the area to Houma.

“It certainly doesn’t hurt,” Neal said. “The players love it. I think the thing that stands out the most is the food, but also the support and the help the people give out so willingly. That area has such a strong support base, and the people really care and offer their best to the event.”

The tournament begins on Wednesday, and morning and afternoon flights will tee off both from the 1st and 10th tees throughout the day.

After two rounds, a cut will be made, and the upper half of the field will finish the tournament in the final two days to decide how the prize money is divvied up.

This year’s event is a change in both name and date, as well.

The event was previously known as the Fakier Open, but now carries the Hebert name after Duane and Jennifer Hebert took over the event’s title sponsorship.

The tournament benefits the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at TGMC, generating thousands annually to help locals battle the deadly disease.

The event also used to align with the Zurich Classic on the calendar in mid-to-late April, but now it’s been moved up a few weeks to run alongside the Master’s.

That change ought to change the weather patterns golfers are used to, as previous tournaments were sometimes played in close to 90-degree heat.

Presley said he doesn’t feel pressure to defend his title, but added that he knows he will have to play well to have a chance.

Much like everyone else on the tour, Presley said his goal was to someday make the PGA Tour – just like Watson did.

“I think that’s where we all want to be,” Presley said. “And I think we have a lot of guys here who are quite good and who can put it all together and get there. There’s a lot of good golf our here.”

Hebert Open

Follow Casey on Twitter for more.