Rabalais: Can Ken Looper complete his miracle tale at the Zurich Classic?

AVONDALE — A looper, for those of you rusty with your “Caddyshack” quotes, is slang for a caddy.

There are more famous loopers out there than Ken Looper. Stevie Williams, Tiger Woods’ former pro jock and the man on the bag for Adam Scott’s Masters victory two weeks ago, leaps to mind. So does Mike “Fluff” Cowan, another former Tiger toter who once in an ESPN commercial justly informed the world that “Caddyshack” is the greatest golf movie ever made.

The worst?

“Humph,” Cowan snorted through a moustache only Johnson Wagner could envy, “Caddyshack 2.”

So, at very little expense, live from the equipment shed at Bushwood Country Club, we give you the immortal Carl Spackler, who will give you the Ken Looper story (quick nine version):

“Cinderella story. … Outta nowhere (OK, Mandeville). … A former UNO Privateer and LSU Tiger. Now about to become, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion.”

No so fast, Carl. Looper hasn’t won yet. But four strokes off the lead going into the final round of his first PGA Tour start, the Cinderella tag applies.

Looper has played hundreds of rounds at TPC Louisiana, even winning the UNO Mardi Gras Invitational here before he transferred to LSU his senior season. But this time there were a few thousand more people in the gallery, and Looper admitted his nerves began to quake as he shot 73 in Thursday’s first round.

Then he remembered it was the same fairways, same greens, same alligators he was used to playing on and around for years. And Looper went lower.

“He’s extremely confident when he’s good, and he’s obviously confident right now,” said John Peterson, a former LSU teammate and fellow Zurich contender.

First Looper rallied past the 36-hole cut line with a 6-under-par 66. He followed that up with a 67 Saturday, capped by a pitch-in for eagle from a sinful little valley just off the left side of the green on the par-5 18th.

“It looks like a mirac- … It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”

All Looper needed, LSU coach Chuck Winstead said, was a chance to show what he can do on golf’s highest level. But there are lots of Ken Loopers out there, many of them struggling on golf’s lower rungs like the NGA Hooters tour (where Looper has won). Pro golf is all about status, and when it comes to the PGA Tour, “I have zero status,” Looper admitted.

That could all change with one round.

A PGA Tour win carries a two-year exemption. Even a top-five finish would automatically put Looper (who goes into Sunday tied for seventh) in next week’s Wells Fargo Championship.

All he needs is a chance. But how big do you dare to dream before your dreams get in the way?

“It’s a cliché, but I do take it one shot at a time,” Looper said. “I don’t think about the holes ahead, and I don’t think about the holes behind — just the hole we’re on.”

After his round, Looper was off to the Aquarium of the Americas for the first time since he was a kid. Free aquarium tickets are one of the little perks for PGA Tour players here.

With one more stellar round, Looper could have it all.

The Cinderella story just needs a closing chapter.