ST. FRANCISVILLE — The Bluffs golf course has dried out, making the greens slicker as the week has progressed for the Adams Pro Tour’s Merrill Lynch Open. That’s just the way leader Anthony Broussard likes it.
Broussard fired a 2-under-par 70 Friday, giving him a two-stroke lead at 9-under after 54 holes for the tournament going into Saturday’s final round. Trailing Broussard are Mike Arnaud of Covington and Mark Walker of Hurst, Texas, at 7-under.
“When the course is hard and fast, I’m most comfortable,” said Broussard, who lives in Addison, Texas. “I feel like it rewards precision. The more precise, the more I feel I can use it to my advantage.”
Brousssard has experience closing out victories. He won the Texas State Open last year and the Houston Hooters Tour event in 2012. After a double-bogey on the par-5 second hole Friday, Broussard birdied the third and ninth holes to make the turn at even par. He added birdies at No. 14 and No. 18 for a 34 on the back.
“I fought hard out there today,” the 29-year-old Broussard said. “I didn’t get off to the start I wanted to, but I kept a good attitude and played one shot at a time.”
Walker got to 4-under, but a double bogey at No. 15 and a bogey at 17 dropped him into a tie with Arnaud. Meanwhile, Arnaud had an up-and-down round with five birdies and three bogies for the day but stayed close to Broussard.
“The greens are starting to get a little speed to them,” said Arnaud, who also has conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is playing his third Adams Pro Tour event of the season. He finished second last week in Houma. “With the course drying out, it’s playing a lot quicker. My goal is to shoot 3-under every day, so if I can do that, I’ll let the cards fall where they may.”
Tied for fourth are BJ Staten, Lance Lopez and Canadian Devin Carrey at 6-under, while overnight leader Cole Howard struggled with a 2-over 74. He heads a group of golfers lurking at 5-under which includes David Gossett, Albert Miner, DrewEvans, Derek Tolan and Christ Worrell. Staten, Gossett, Evans and Worrell tied for the day’s best rounds at 4-under.
The $120,000 tournament concludes Saturday with the final round, and the winner will receive a check for $20,000 at the awards ceremony immediately following the completion of the round. Admission is free.