The usual gaggle of spectator carts was haphazardly bobbing and weaving and re-beering around the final two groups of the Lake Charles Toyota city golf tournament late Sunday at Mallard Cove golf course.

Little did they know that the winner was already in the clubhouse.

Phillip Hoffpauir had heard rumors, but even he didn’t really trust the information that his bogey-free, final-round 6-under 66 would be enough to rally from six shots back to claim his fourth city title but his first this century.

“Is that crazy,” he said after finishing at 3-under 213 for the 54-hole tournament to leap-frog seven other golfers on the last day.

Perhaps it was nuts. Still, he had  told his family before leaving the house Sunday that “I’m going to go shoot 65 and win the city tourney.”

The wife and daughter laughed at him.

“I think even the dog snickered,” he said. “I didn’t even believe it myself because I don’t shoot 65 very often. But 66 turned out to be enough.”

Barely. And he needed help in what was presumed to be the final time the city tournament will be played at Mallard before it closes and the city gets a new course.

But Sunday the early leaders went through various stages of golf mischief on the back nine before second-round co-leader Hank Shaheen — the reigning state mid-amateur champion —  managed to complete a 73 to finish a shot behind.

Bottom line: Hoffpauir was the only golfer to break par Sunday.

Matt Nicholas, whom Hoffpauir joined as a four-time winner — the second-most all time —  tied for third with seven-time champion Billy Gabbert at 1-under for the tournament.

Nicholas actually got to 5-under-par for the tournament through 10 holes Sunday, but it all unravelled after a wayward tee shot against a tree on the par-3 11th forced him to take a left-handed shot with a right-handed long iron. His club caught a sprig of grass and led to a rare whiff in the championship flight and a double bogey.

It’s not the  kind of shot you practice. And maybe practice really does make perfect.

Don’t tell his usual golf gang at Gray Plantation, but Hoffpauir was spotted at the Gray practice range at 7 a.m. Sunday.

“I was there Saturday morning, too,” he admitted. “The last three days I snuck out there and ‘grinded.’ Our golf group, you can’t grind, that’s a sin, bad karma if they see you out there practicing. So I had to go early so nobody could see me.”

In marked contrast to his last city title, that Gray gang of his was about the extent of the gallery that saw him complete Sunday’s tournament-winning round. In 1999, the final green was overflowing with spectators when he bombed home a 64-foot, 3-inch eagle putt to beat Gabbert by a stroke.

Hoffpauir suspects the handful on hand Sunday were only there out of morbid curiosity.

“I kept asking them why are y’all following me,” he said. “They were secretly waiting on the explosion.”

They were too late. That came Friday when, as Hoffpauir said, “I three-putted a lot of holes coming in and turned a 68 or 69 into a 73.”

It also turned his driver and putter into unusable utensils — Hoffpauir will appreciate the winner’s pro shop gift certificate as much as the trophy after breaking two clubs.

“The driver was an innocent bystander,” he said. “It was a good tee shot (on No 18)  but I was just ventng from earlier. When I three-putted the last hole, the putter took a dive ... but it was a cheap putter.”

He followed the 73 with a Saturday  74 that somehow left all his clubs intact.

The thrill seekers in his cozy gallery, however, would come away disappointed Sunday.

“They got to see it on Friday and I guess the were waiting on it today,” Hoffpauir laughed. “But I played too good.”

While the leaders back yonder were making a mess of the backside, Hoffpauir caught fire after making the turn in  2-under. He then birdied No. 10, No. 12 and No. 14 before “maybe the luckiest par I’ve ever made on No. 15.”

“That got me pretty deep under par,” he said, admitting it was the first time he thought about maybe winning the tournament.”

The loyal Gray gang riding side-saddle with him also got curious and the group text messages starting flying with updates on the carnage behind them.

“It was hard to know because our group can give bad information ... you can’t trust anybody,” Hoffpauir said.

After a birdie on 18 to complete the 66, he was on the chipping green, anticipating a playoff, when it became official to join his championships in 1999, 1998 and 1992.

“This is probably the best one,” Hoffpauir said. “I practiced a lot. Probably wasn’t working on the right things, still I practiced. But to be almost 50 years old (this December) and to beat the best players in this city ... it doesn’t happen often and probably won’t happen too often again.

“But I’ll take it when I can get it.”

Past Champions

Past winners of the Lake Charles Toyota city tournament. The tournament was changed to a 54-hole (par 216) format for the championship flight in 1997:

2019 — Phillip Hoffpauir    213

2018 — Neithen Allen    208

2017 — Gage Primeaux    204

2016 ­— Matt Nicholas    207

2015 — Neithen Allen    209

2014 — Matt Nicholas    212

2013 — Neithen Allen    205

2012 — Robby Going    210

2011 — Jacob LeJeune    214

2010 — Jacob LeJeune    200

2009 — Jason Horn    206

2008 — Robby Going    203

2007 — Blake DeReese    210

2006 — Billy Gabbert    212

2005 — George Cestia    212

2004 — Matt Nicholas    208

2003 — Billy Gabbert    208

2002 — Billy Gabbert    213

2001 — Matt Nicholas    209

2000 — Billy Gabbert    208

1999 — Phillip Hoffpauir    143

1998 — Phillip Hoffpauir    210

1997 — *Billy Gabbert    226

1996 — *+Chris Malone    106

1995 — Billy Gabbert    142

1994 — Brian Hirsch Jr.    146

1993 — Wayne Sweeney    147

1992 — *Phillip Hoffpauir    146

1991 — *+Chris Johnson    110

1990 — David Berry    149

1989 — ++Benny Holcombe    71

1988 — *Lawrence David    146

1987 — Keith Harris    140

1986 — Billy Gabbert    142

1985 — *Rick Woodsen    147

1984 — Don Bladen    146

1983 — Scott Reeves    145

1982 — Billy Trent    143

1981 — Ron O’Brien    147

1980 — Don Scott    139

1979 — Don Scott    142

1978 — Ron O’Brien    151

* — won playoff; + — rain shortened (27 holes); ++ — rain shortened (18 holes).


MOST CHAMPIONSHIPS

Billy Gabbert, 7; Matt Nicholas, 4; Phillip Hoffpauir, 3; Neithen Allen, 3; Robby Going, 2; Jacob LeJeune, 2; Ron O’Brien, 2; Don Scott 2. One each:  Blake DeReese, Gage Primeaux, George Cestia, Chris Malone, Brian Hirsch, Jr., Wayne Sweeney, Chris Johnson, Jason Horn, David Berry, Benny Holcombe, Lawrence David, Keith Harris, Rick Woodsen, Don Bladen, Scott Reeves, Billy Trent.

Sunday’s final round scores from the Lake Charles Toyota City Golf Championship at the par 72 Mallard Cove golf course.

CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

Phillip Hoffpauir    73-74-66—213

Hank Shaheen    75-66-73—214

Matt Nicholas    72-70-73—215

Billy Gabbert    76-67-72—215

Doug Quienalty    68-73-75—216

Reid Giardina    74-72-73—219

Shane Fontenot    73-74-75—222

Logan Kuehn    74-73-75—222

Neithan Allen    72-73-78—223

Channing Kile    76-71-79—226

Zac Barton    77-73-76—226

Gage Primeaux    71-72-84—227

Shane Heinen    77-73-79—229

Jason Horn    78-74-79—231

Kade Hagan    83-68-81—232

FIRST FLIGHT

Blake Dereese    71-83-72—226

Thad Gaspard    80-75-72—227

Jevon Perry    77-76-77—230

John Morrissey    78-76-76—230

Nick Sonnier    76-79-75—230

Donny Abshire    82-73-77—232

Jordan Derouen    82-74-77—233

David Martin    80-79-75—234

Brian Larocca    80-77-78—235

Scott Hall    81-75-81—237

Connor Castille    82-83-75—240

Chris Hood    80-83-84—247

Jaxon Caldwell    94-83-89—266

Chris Boos    77-WD

Ric Speights    78-WD

SECOND FLIGHT

Dave Huber  77-75 —152

Billy Spees  77-77 —154

Scott Quick  73-82 —155

Bill Stevens  74-81 —155

Derek Fontenot  77-78 —155

Austin O’Quinn  78-78 —156

Troy Higginbotham  75-85 —160

Sam Smith  77-84 —161

Brett Ardoin  78-83 —161

Dustin Ratliff  82-81 —163

Steve Welling  79-86 —165

Kevin Primeaux  86-79 —165

Scott Hudson  81-86 —167

Richard Martin  80-88 —168

Terry Hagen  82-87 —169

Collin Castille  92-77 —169

THIRD FLIGHT

Jim Taylor  75-75 —150

Tyler Richard  76-79 —155

Chance Terrell  78-79 —157

Zack Eisner  77-81 —158

Buddy Burks  75-84 —159

Chance Curlee  81-78 —159

Billy Kitley  78-83 —161

Brian Soram  79-82 —161

Scott Theriot  82-79 —161

Minh Nguyen  79-83 —162

Mike Beglis  76-90 —166

Russell Montiville  81-88 —169

Kevin Weise  85-84 —169

Vic Montgomery  88-90 —178

Jake Daughenbaugh  94-86 —180

Hunter Thornton  91-93 —184

Allen Mitchell  85 —-85

FOURTH FLIGHT

William Weise  71-82 —153

Kevin Cart  73-80 —153

Zach Vincent  82-79 —161

Todd Mathis  77-86 —163

Matt Gillespie  78-85 —163

Andrew Worley  79-84 —163

Trey Miller  80-83 —163

Mitch Eubanks  82-82 —164

Sam Powell  86-78 —164

Austin DeReese  86-79 —165

Ian James  82-84 —166

Keith Nugent  81-86 —167

Billy Creel  81-87 —168

Joe Underwood  83-85 —168

Logan Trimm  83-89 —172

Brian Bernhardt  85-87 —172

David Moore  91-87 —178

Mike Yochum  89-WD

FIFTH FLIGHT

Noah Hinton  80-76 —156

Ricky Norwood  75-84 —159

Dwayne Hightower  77-82 —159

Jeff Harper  80-79 —159

Jeff Ardoin  76-84 —160

Ken Alexander  80-80 —160

Sandy Woods  79-83 —162

Marc Lucas  85-78 —163

David Durzan  79-86 —165

Shawn Fontenot  80-87 —167

Randy Billedeaux  84-83 —167

Brock Smith  84-84 —168

Jack Fontenot  93-81 —174

Steve Springer  92-89 —181

Jonathan Courville  93-90 —183

SIXTH FLIGHT

Brad Evans  81-82 —163

Hoss Brown  83-85 —168

Douglas Hartsfield  81-88 —169

Chad Langley  85-85 —170

Aaron Touchstone  84-89 —173

Chris Fontenot  87-87 —174

Joey Adaway  91-86 —177

Brent Soileau  92-85 —177

Karl Bertrand  85-94 —179

Cole Bergeron  86-93 —179

Mike Fontenot  89-92 —181

Huey Hebert  92-90 —182

Zack Hagen  92-93 —185

Michael Carter  93-92 —185

John Ieyoub  95-90 —185

Kerry Joseph  90-97 —187

SEVENTH FLIGHT

Greg Norsworthy  85-78 —163

Logan Landry  83-85 —168

Mike Fusilier  83-92 —175

Bryon Stevens  86-95 —181

Carl Cole  89-94 —183

Michael Walker  92-91 —183

Clay Hill  94-89 —183

Vince Castille  90-96 —186

Ty Simon  97-91 —188

Curtis Cole  96-95 —191

Thomas Simon  93-99 —192

Dennis Verrette  91-102 —193

Ted Dupin  94-100 —194

Pat Verrette  99-95 —194

Chad Scott Smith  100-98 —198

Jarrod Durflinger  89-112 —201

SENIOR FLIGHT ONE

Mac Blanchard  78-70 —148

Bill Perkins  79-71 —150

Bryan Ballard  79-77 —156

Scott Lominac  81-76 —157

Randy Tadlock  79-79 —158

Jerry Bonvillian  82-80 —162

Charlie Buller  78-85 —163

Lindell Lambright  77-87 —164

Terrance Hoffpauir  81-83 —164

Val East 80-85 —165

Mike Colletta  81-84 —165

Mike Klumpp  84-83 —167

David Flanagan  82-86 —168

Jim Mooney  84-88 —172

Gray Little  88-84 —172

SENIOR FLIGHT TWO

Mike Cagle  75-76 —151

Wil Fruge  77-80 —157

Scott McManus  77-83 —160

Randell Williams  84-78 —162

Greg Michel  87-80 —167

Sam Morris  87-88 —175

Terry Mullis  85-91 —176

Marty Thompson  86-90 —176

Charles Tarbell  96-80 —176

David Herrick  90-88 —178

Mark Fontenot  91-89 —180

Marc Grenier  94-88 —182

Jeff Sewell  94-89 —183

Kurtis McGrath  90-97 —187

Samuel Baynes  91-99 —190

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