By Charles Salzer
Special to The Advocate
Judging the final round of the Baton Rouge Open by Brandt Garon’s body language, it appeared he was in danger of losing the five-shot lead he began the day with, but the scorecard told a different story.
The former Louisiana-Lafayette standout who played at Parkview Baptist backed up a first-round 66 with a 71 on Sunday for a winning score of 7-under par 137. The closest challenger was Blaine C. Patin, who shot 70 and finished seven strokes back at even par.
“The body language came from not knowing if things would go south,” said Garon, who won his second Baton Rouge Open in five years. “I didn’t have it today. The putter felt awful in my hands, but I’m not going to complain. I was fortunate to hit some decent shots and keep it from going the way it could have.”
Besides battling his putter, Garon struggled to control the distance of his irons. At the par-3 fifth hole, he hit an 8-iron 180 yards to the back of the green, but two-putted for par. Garon was in perfect position off the tee at the par-5 seventh, but hit a 6-iron over the green from the fairway. Again, he made par and moved on.
On the back nine, Garon began to settle down. He sank a 25-foot birdie putt on 14, and continued to make pars. He had a final chance for birdie at 18, but his wedge from 110 yards came up 15 feet short of the pin and he two-putted for par.
“I was disappointed with the way I handled my nerves, but I’m happy with winning,” Garon said. “Especially playing against a field like we had in this tournament. Blaine Patin said he could have shot 64 today, and he could have. I just didn’t want to give it away.”
Playing in the same group with Garon were Mpho Mmopi and Phillip Frazier, who both started the day at 1-under.
Mmopi bogeyed his first three holes, but birdied four and seven to work his way back to even par. At 10, he missed the green short leading to another bogey, and he went on to shoot 77.
Frazier, a former collegiate golfer at South Carolina, birdied the par-3 second, and was within four strokes of Garon for the next five holes. At eight, Frazier’s approach found a sand trap in back of the green, and at nine a wedge from the fairway came up short. He bogeyed both holes on his way to a 74.
“It wasn’t my best putting day, but I managed the round well,” Frazier said. “I tried to stay patient, but being so far back, sometimes it doesn’t happen. It’s golf.”
Danny Heyward turned in the low round of the day with a 69. He finished with a two-day total of 5-over 149, and successfully defended his title in the senior division. Randall Little shot 75, and was two strokes behind Heyward at 151. Shawn Kjar had the lead at 1-over when the round began, but shot 79 to finish third at 152.
“I started out with three birdies and just hung in there after that,” said Heyward, who had two birdies and two bogeys in the remaining 15 holes. “It was a great start. That’s really what did it.”