ST. FRANCISVILLE — Grady Brame Jr. has learned a lot about golf in the past 10 months.
Shortly after becoming the first player in 45 years to successfully defend his Louisiana State Amateur championship in June, Brame turned pro. He made it through the first two rounds of PGA Tour Qualifying School in September and missed the third round by one shot.
Since then, he has been working on his game and playing on satellite tours, getting ready for another shot at the PGA.
The former Southeastern Louisiana star is in the field for the Adams Pro Tour’s Merrill Lynch Open at The Bluffs, which gets starts Wednesday with tee times beginning at 8 a.m.
Brame, 23, has played in two of three APT events this year and made both cuts, including a top-10 finish last week. He missed qualifying for the Zurich Classic, so he’s playing at the APT event instead.
“I love the course; the layout is incredible,” said Brame, who now lives in Baton Rouge. “It has difficult green complexes you won’t see anywhere in Louisiana.”
He will continue playing in satellite events and hopes to qualify for the U.S. Open, then it’s back to Q-School in the fall.
“My goal is to get better and better every day,” Brame said. “It’s a good experience on the mini-tours and I’ll use it to prepare for qualifying school. Hopefully, I’ll peak at the right time.”
The Merrill Lynch Open benefits Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and is the fourth stop on the 14-tournament APT schedule. It offers $125,000 in prize money, including $25,000 to the winner, one of the tour’s richest purses.
The field for the 72-hole tournament will be cut after Thursday’s second round to the low 35 percent of scores and ties. The final rounds will be played Friday and Saturday, with an awards presentation scheduled for the clubhouse area at 2 p.m. Saturday. Attendance is free.
Defending champion B.J. Staten is playing on the Web.com Tour full time and is not defending his title. Three players Slaten beat in a two-hole playoff in 2015 — Drew Evans, Lance Lopez and Mark Walker — have returned this week.
Andrew Presley, who won last week’s ATP Fakier Open in Houma, is also competing along with four of the top five money leaders — No. 1 Scott Kelly ($30,761) and No. 2 Drew Scott ($25,000), No. 4 Presley ($24,607) and No. 5 Dustin Morris ($15,346).
Other Louisiana-based golfers in the field include Meal Ajubita (Metairie), Gregory Berthelot (Baton Rouge), Dante Caldera (Greenwell Springs), Taylor Jelks (Norwood), Blake Kelley (Mandeville), Tyler Ledet (Lafayette), Myles Lewis (New Orleans), Landon Lyons (Baton Rouge), Brian Rowell (Broussard), Ethan Savoy (Broussard), Michael Smith (Lafayette), Ben Suarez (Longville) and amateur Peyton McCulloch (Zachary).