Threatening weather conditions never quite delivered a knockout punch Saturday, and former Catholic High School golfer Greg Berthelot made the most of it.
Berthelot, a former Louisiana Golf Association state amateur champion, carded six birdies to offset a double bogey. His 4-under par round of 68 at Santa Maria golf course has him atop the field heading into Sunday’s second and final round of the Baton Rouge Open.
Berthelot’s double bogey came on the fourth hole, a tight 392-yard par 4 with Ward Creek to the right of the fairway and out-of-bounds on the left. After making the turn at even par, he birdied 10, 13, 16 and 18 for the low round of the day.
Nicholls State golfer Peyton McCulloch and recent Catholic High graduate Tristan Elston each shot 70, and are tied for second. Michael Sotile is fourth after shooting 71.
The field will be flighted for the second round. The top 15 players will begin teeing off at 9 a.m.
“Right when we teed off it started to rain, but it didn’t affect us that much,” said Elston, who will join the Louisiana-Lafayette golf team in the fall.
“The course was in great shape, and played awesome. They had some pins set up to challenge you, and it was fun. I had a good time.”
Elston jump-started his round by sinking a 40-foot eagle putt at the par-5 third hole. He opened his round on the back nine with a double bogey at 10. The eagle moved him to 1-under, and he added a birdie at 7.
Brandt Garon, last year’s second-place finisher at 8-under, shot 73. Defending champion Wendell Akins shot 78 and didn’t qualify for the championship flight.
A noticeable change for this year’s tournament was the move from four-player groups to threesomes, which BREC director of golf Mike Raby helped implement. Most groups averaged about four hours of playing time, and the entire tournament seemed to carry a brisk pace.
Scott Wilfong, the 2014 Baton Rouge Amateur champion, shot an opening round 75, but said he was pleased with his group’s speedy play.
“It felt great,” Wilfong said. “Playing in four hours is really good. Our group had a few problem holes, so we did OK.”
Wilfong said he believes an even-par round for Berthelot on Sunday might be good enough to win the championship.
“I’m guessing 4- or 5-under will win it,” he said. “It would take a pretty low round for me, but I’ll take it one shot at a time.”
Baton Rouge Open results
First-round results from the Baton Rouge Open at Santa Maria golf course.
RightAlign.122Greg Berthelot 68
Peyton McCulloch 70
Tristan Elston 70
Michael Sotile 71
Daniel Schroeder 72
Scott Haynie 72
Kelsey Angelle 72
Corey Artiteta 72
David Knight 73
Brandt Garon 73
Craig Rose 74
Jesse Eusay 75
Shawn Kjar 75
David Levingston 75
Davis Chapman 75
Shane Starns 75
Scott Wilfong 75