AVONDALE — In the span of an hour Sunday afternoon, the late-night travel plans of former LSU All-America golfer John Peterson changed dramatically.
After finishing the rain-delayed Zurich Classic of New Orleans with a 72-hole score of 13-under-par 275 at TPC Louisiana, Peterson thought he was headed to Athens, Ga., for the Web.com Tour event. A short time later, he was jumping into his car for an 11-hour ride to Charlotte, N.C., after earning a spot in the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship with his top-10 effort in the Zurich.
Peterson will have more than enough money for gas and snacks for the long drive after tying for eighth and picking up a check for $165,000 on his way out of town.
After he strung together an impressive birdie-birdie-birdie finish, Peterson was tied for sixth. He figured some players would pass him with 16 threesomes still on the soggy course.
“I hope it stands up, yeah,” he said after rounds of 71, 67, 70 and 67 produced his first subpar aggregate score in 12 PGA Tour events. “The car is packed up and ready to go, so we may have to re-route it.”
That happened a bit later — just after the second rain delay of the day, when Peterson was told his place in the top 10 was secure.
Peterson, who had won just $29,354 on the PGA Tour this season, rose to the challenge after a first-round 71 on Thursday. He bounced back Friday with a 5-under 67 and matched that Sunday. His strong final-round effort included nine birdies — seven coming after his tee shot found the water on No. 4 and he double-bogeyed.
“After that (double-bogey), it was good the way I came in,” he said. “It really told me a lot about myself and how I can play there after a double-bogey. So it was good to see that.”
Former LSU golfer Ken Looper, a teammate of Peterson’s in 2011, nearly punched his ticket to Charlotte as well in his first PGA Tour event. Looper, who plays on the NGA Hooters Tour, earned his Zurich spot in a Monday qualifier and was just four shots out of the lead entering the final round.
An eagle at the par-5 second hole got him started, but he made just one birdie the rest of the day. Two bogeys, including one on the 18th hole when he put his tee shot in the water, cost him a spot in the Wells Fargo field.
Still, the 23-year-old, who finished at 11-under after shooting a 1-under 71 on Sunday and tied for 21st to earn $58,740, was hardly deflated by the experience.
“I was playing well the whole week, up until the back nine today,” he said. “Moving forward, it gives me a lot of confidence that I can play out here. I can compete. Hopefully, I can get another opportunity to show it.”
Former LSU All-American David Toms finished with a 68 and was 7-under for the tournament. He tied for 47th and earned $16,159.