Defending champion Scott Haynie headlines a 64-player field Saturday morning when the Baton Rouge Amateur championship gets underway at Santa Maria Golf Course.
The tournament is known as a test of skill and endurance with players required to battle through four rounds in two days to claim the title. Play gets under way at 7 a.m. with the first of three rounds of match play, two on Saturday and another Sunday morning.
The field will be left with eight players for Sunday afternoon’s final round, an 18-hole stroke play round to determine the winner. Last year, Haynie edged Blaine A. Patin on the first hole of a sudden death playoff to claim his seventh amateur win.
Haynie said there is no time to worry about defending his title when there is the possibility of being knocked out of the tournament in each round.
“Match play is so unpredictable. You don’t have time to worry about winning the tournament or doing something else,” Haynie said. “You have to key in on the match you’re playing. It doesn’t matter what (seed) you’re playing because everybody has the potential to win.”
Haynie is the tournament’s top seed, while Patin, who has finished second in the past two amateurs after losing in a sudden death playoff, is the second seed. Todd Elkins, Chuck Laudermill and Shane Starns round out the top five.
“I’ve played well in this tournament the last two years, but came up short,” Patin said. “This year, my approach is the same as its been the last two. Focus on one match at a time, and try to hit fairways and greens.”
Patin said his game is at the level it has been in recent years. He teamed with Darrell Lakvold, the amateur’s No. 22 seed, to win last week’s LGA four-ball tournament at Alexandria. Last month, he tied for ninth in the state amateur with a 4-under finish at Le Triomphe in Broussard.
Haynie also played well at the state amateur finishing 18th at even par after opening the tournament with a round of 4-over, 76.
“I’ve played pretty decent in tournaments so far this year, but this is one tournament that sticks out because of the close calls,” Patin said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
The Baton Rouge Amateur will also help players add points to their BREC Player of the Year totals. Laudermill, eighth-seeded Danny Nelson, No. 10 Luke Gower and No. 31 Donnie Chatelain are all in the top five of the player of the year standings.
The 2013 tournament marked the second consecutive year that the title was decided in a playoff. Patin birdied the par-5 18th hole to tie Haynie at 2 under. They played the hole again in sudden death, but, after Haynie two-putted for par, Patin missed a 3-footer that would have extended play.
In, 2012 Wade Gautreaux defeated Patin on the third hold of a sudden death playoff to claim the title of a tournament whose format is unlike any other local event.
“In match play you can be more aggressive on putts, and you can take more chances,” Haynie said. “Then you have to get into the mindset of medal play, and it’s a completely different ballgame. You’ve got to take your time. You can’t waste shots, and you have to be a little more conservative.
“It’s a different animal, and it’s a lot of fun.”