After two late bogeys seemingly pushed him out of contention, Vince Covello birdied the final hole in regulation and the third playoff hole to earn his first Web.com Tour title at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS on Sunday.
A Nease High School and University of North Florida graduate, Covello topped 54-hole leader Justin Lower in the playoff with a birdie after both players made pars on the first two holes. The playoff was contested on the 18th hole (repeating) at Le Triomphe Golf & Country Club Broussard, Louisiana, after both players ended regulation at 19-under 265.
“It’s unbelievable,” said an emotional Covello, who currently lives in Jacksonville. “I wasn’t sure this day would ever come. I feel blessed to be here and lucky that I got it done. It was certainly a crazy finish there at the end. I pulled everything out that I could and it ended up being enough.”
Entering the final hole needing a birdie to tie Lower at 19-under, Covello stuck his ball to one foot away for an easy birdie and entry into a playoff. He then promptly pulled his drive into the water to start the playoff but got up and down from 113 yards for par to match Lower.
“When I was down there (by the water), I knew I wasn’t done yet,” Covello said. “I still had a chance. I still ended up with a clean lie and a good angle into the pin, so somehow I talked myself into believing that I still had a chance. I made that 10 to 12 footer to extend it, and that was huge.”
All week long Covello relied on his iron play at the par-71 course. He led the field in greens in regulation through three rounds before hitting only 11/18 during the final round. Covello began the day with a bogey at the first before rattling off birdies at Nos. 4, 5 and 7 to make the turn at 2-under. After another birdie at the par-5 12th, Covello bogeyed Nos. 13 and 14, falling three back of Lower. But Lower bogeyed Nos. 14 and 15 to open the door and Covello responded with birdies on 16 and 18 to reach the playoff.
“I always felt like I was good enough to win, but you don’t know until you actually do it, until you prove it,” Covello said. “Today I proved it and I’m really proud of that. I’ve had a couple of wins on the mini-tour level, came close in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour, but this is definitely my biggest win to date.”
The 36-year-old has played professional golf for the last 15 years across many different levels and on the Web.com Tour full-time over the last two years. He previously had two career top-10 finishes in 79 career starts.