There were plenty of birdies and more than enough bogeys, but only Michael Boone maximized his play enough to take the lead after the opening round of the BREC Players Championship.
Playing bogey-free golf, Boone shot 5-under 67 to take a three-shot lead over Jeremy Gautreaux at Beaver Creek golf course. Defending champion Blaine A. Patin was tied for third with Wendell Akins and Gayle Sanchez after posting a 71.
Play concludes with a final round today. The final group including Boone will tee off at 9 a.m.
“I just hit fairways and greens, and then I didn’t miss any putts outside of five or six feet,” Boone said. “I had some chances to shoot lower, but all the putts I had to make I did.”
Dante Caldera, Emmitt McKnight and Chuck Laudermill were tied for sixth at even par 72. Caldera came into the tournament with the leading point total in BREC’s player of the year standings. In this tournament, players receive points for their standing after the first and second rounds.
Caldera picked up more than 250 points Saturday, and finished higher than all of his closest challengers for that honor.
Boone got his round going early when he settled for birdie at the par-5 second after nearly chipping in for eagle. He added birdies at 5 and 9 before heading to the back nine.
“I birdied 14 and 18, the two hardest holes on the back nine,” Boone said. “I hit a couple of bad chip shots, but I made up for it with some decent putts.”
Gautreaux attributed his round of 70 to chipping and putting after hitting 13 greens. He made three birdies, one on the front side and two more at 13 and 15 before his only bogey at 16.
“I’ve been working on my game so its coming around. It feels pretty good,” Gautreaux said. “I’m trying to win (this tournament).”
Sanchez had an up and down round that featured six birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey on his way to 71.
Akins, whose two-day total of 10-under won the Baton Rouge Open in June, scrambled late in his round to shoot 71. He made the turn at even par, but bogeyed 10 and 12. Birdies at 13, 16 and 17 turned it around for him.
Patin’s round was a rollercoaster, as well, with a peak at the 11th hole before he came back down to earth. Patin came to the back nine at 3-under, and continued his solid play.
A birdie at 10 preceded holing a 50-foot eagle putt at 11 bringing him to 6-under, but it didn’t last. A pulled drive into the water at 12 led to double bogey. He three-putted three of the remaining six holes to finish at 1-under 71.
“I didn’t really hit the ball badly coming in,” said Patin, who was still riding a crest after winning the LGA Mid-Amateur tournament two weeks ago. “I just got in some spots on the greens where I couldn’t two putt. For some reason I never could get the speed right on the greens.”
Patin won the Players Championship and player of the year last season, but has not played as many local tournaments this year. Instead he has concentrated on state level tournaments, and played a local schedule around them.
It’s a plan that Patin feels has helped improve his game, and still gives him a shot at winning the tournament.
“The good thing about this tournament is one round is not going to define it,” Patin said. “You’ve got to play two rounds so hopefully (Sunday) will give me a chance to make up some ground.”