Golfers hoping to earn a spot in next week’s Baton Rouge Amateur golf championship were greeted with familiar conditions Saturday morning at Webb Park.
A threat of afternoon rain came and went, leaving golfers with hot, humid conditions. It was the perfect tune-up for a tournament that seems to be equal parts marathon race and golf tournament.
“It’s going to be tough (next week),” Central’s Dante Caldera said after qualifying with a round of even-par 72. “It will take somebody with endurance.”
Ryan Schulz and Steven Day each carded a 69 to lead a group of five golfers under par. Boyd Kernan and Robert Stuart shot 70, while Jake Posze had a 71.
The top 36 golfers from Saturday’s qualifier will advance to next week’s 64-player field at the Baton Rouge Amateur.
The amateur will be held July 30-31 at Santa Maria Golf Course. It traditionally features three rounds of match play before the event is completed with a stroke play final round, all over the course of two days.
After their rounds, most players headed to the Webb Park courtyard area where scores were posted. Counting the number of players who shot better scores was the popular pastime.
One player doing that was John Kitchin, who shot 77 to miss the qualifying line by a stroke. Only about 20 players had bettered his score when he finished his round.
“I’ve been playing poorly lately,” Kitchin said. “I didn’t know what to expect, and I was pretty satisfied. I just had one blow up hole.”
Kitchin, who played in his first amateur last year, will still have a chance to get in as an alternate.
Stuart, who missed last year but is an amateur veteran, came into the qualifier knowing that a score of par or better would get him in. Saturday’s round fell into the “or better” category.
“I didn’t play very well at first. I was 2-over through six holes,” said Stuart, who birdied five of his next 10 holes to move to 2-under. “I made up for it on the back.”
Caldera, who will be playing in his first Baton Rouge Amateur, struggled on the front nine before rallying. It provided a satisfying finish for the college student, who will have youth on his side next week.
“I played in a match play event on the Arrowhead Tour down at Carter Plantation,” Caldera said. “But its been a while since I played that many holes (in two days).”
Former local prep golfer Brandt Garon was in a group of nine who shot 72. Garon described his round as “nothing special,” but made a nice rally with two back nine birdies to offset a double bogey at 9.
Garon played at Meridian Community College last season. Garon has played in the amateur numerous times, including a second-place finish.
“I didn’t play the Baton Rouge Open this year,” Garon said. “I had three tournaments coming up, so I took that week off, but I love these tournaments. They’re fun.”
Fun, as long as Mother Nature doesn’t intervene with too much heat or too much rain.
“I’m glad we got it in today,” Kitchin said. “It looked like the weather was going to be bad, but we dodged a bullet.”