Andrew Loupe battled voices to earn PGA Tour card

Andrew Loupe hits his drive on the seventh hole during the final round of the Web.com Tour Championship held on the Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Andrew Loupe hits his drive on the seventh hole during the final round of the Web.com Tour Championship held on the Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass.

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – John Peterson was done playing, but he wasn’t done praying.

He rushed back to the 18th green at Dye’s Course at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday to watch good friend Andrew Loupe battle “the demons and voices” in his attempt to secure his PGA Tour card for the first time.

“I’m gonna pray this dude home,” Peterson said.

Peterson and Loupe were college teammates at LSU and have been competing on the golf course with and against each for longer than that.

“He used to beat the crap out of me until I was about 15,” Peterson said.

At the beginning of the week, it looked as if Loupe might need some divine intervention. Three missed cuts in the first four events of the Web.com Tour Championship meant he would need a top-6 finish or better to leapfrog into the top 25 of the Web.com Tour Finals money list and earn PGA Tour privileges.

After breaking par the first three days, Loupe began the final round of the tournament on the bubble. He embraced the possibility. After all, had it not been for a T-12 at the Cox Classic to finish No. 70 on the regular-season money list, he wouldn’t have qualified for the finals. With one round to go at the Web.com Tour Championship, his dream of making the Tour was within reach.

“I didn’t even bring it up,” said Peterson, Loupe's roommate in Ponte Vedra Beach. “I didn’t want to add any pressure to him.”

Loupe started with a birdie at the first, then made a three-putt bogey at the second. He struck a dazzling shot from the pine straw and averted disaster at the eighth. Even as Loupe toured the front nine in 33 and moved into contention at 8 under, his calm demeanor masked his true feelings. Loupe wasn’t embarrassed to concede that his heart was thumping like a rock band and he still harbored doubts, which took form in “demons and voices and this and that.” What were the voices saying?

“That it’s not going to be your day,” he said.

It didn’t seem like it was in the cards when he made “four great shots” and walked off with bogey at the 17th hole. Loupe dropped to 7 under and from T-2 to T-6. His cushion was gone.

Yet the 24-year-old former All-American collected himself and cracked an adrenaline-laden 3-wood that bounced in the right rough and came to rest in the pine straw. Loupe has the type of power you can’t teach. His average driving distance of 315.2 yards was second-longest on the Web.com Tour.

“He’s going to cause quite a scene with how far he hits it,” Peterson said.

Sometimes, he can be too long. But from 137 yards, he lifted a wedge to 30 feet. Then he banged his first putt 5 feet past the hole. His body tensed and the voices grew louder. Loupe remembered back to the second stage at Q-School when he birdied nine of the last 13 holes to advance.

“For whatever reason, it seems when I’m flushed against the wall, I’m able to punch my way out,” Loupe said.

“He’s fearless,” Peterson said. “He’s always finished strong. I just knew he was going to make that one.”

After the ball rolled into the middle of the cup, Peterson was there at the green to greet Loupe, and break the good news.

“You sure?” Loupe asked, not once but twice. “You sure, man?”

Loupe’s face lit up. Demons be damned, he was headed to the PGA Tour.

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