Brett Baker’s golf game was working so well Saturday afternoon that visions of challenging the course record at Santa Maria Golf Course danced through his head.
Baker eventually cooled off, but not enough to keep him from shooting 68 and grabbing a share of the first-day lead at the Baton Rouge Open.
Blaine Patin joined Baker at 68, and was one of eight players to break par. Ryan Stephens, Jason McKenzie, Hunter Smith and Larry Daigle shot 70. Eric Spencer and Trey Neck each carded a 71.
Also within striking distance at 73 were Donny Schmitt, Can Le, Ryan McLin and Scott Wilfong. Former LSU golfer Brent Struthers finished among a group of 10 golfers at 76.
The tournament concludes today with flighted competition beginning at 7 a.m., and the leaders going off at 8:30 a.m.
Baker began his Saturday round on the back nine, and immediately heated up with birdies at 10 and 11. He stayed at 2-under until the 16th where his approach spun back to within inches of the cup for a tap-in birdie.
“The front nine I had was just basic golf,” Baker said. “I drove it in the fairway and hit it on the green.”
Baker added another birdie at the par-5 18th to make the turn at 4-under. When he opened his back nine with a birdie at the first his thoughts drifted to the course record of 63, which was tied last year in a Tight Lies Tour event.
“I’m 5-under after 10 holes, and I’m starting to think about the course record when I’m going that low,” Baker said.
Baker made par at the second hole, and then had just 195 yards left to reach the par-5 third in two.
Baker’s approach hit the pin leaving only an eight-foot eagle putt to reach 7-under.
Instead, Baker missed the putt, and then bogeyed his next three holes to drop back to 3-under. It was a stretch that included a three-putt from eight feet at No. 5.
“I would say my putter killed me today, but I made seven birdies so it couldn’t have been that bad,” Baker said.”
Patin, general manager of The Oaks at Sherwood golf course, described his round as consistent after making five birdies to offset a lone bogey.
“I played well. I hit a lot of greens, but it wasn’t anything crazy,” said Patin, who singled out the fifth and seventh holes as the key to his front nine.
“I knocked it to three or four feet on No. 5, which is the hardest hole out here. That got me a little pumped up,” Patin said.
Patin’s second shot at the par-5 seventh found water, but the hole turned into a momentum booster when he got up and down for par.
Patin bounced back to birdie eight, and then knocked it close at No. 10 as he worked his way to 3 under.
A poor tee shot at 14 led to Patin’s only bogey. He put his second shot into the front left bunker, but couldn’t recover for his par.
On 16 and 17, Patin made birdie after hitting both his approach shots inside 10 feet. Patin was disappointed he couldn’t take advantage of the par-5 18th, but was pleased with his overall play.
“For me, this is a measuring stick,” Patin said. “I want to see how I play against the best golfers in the city. There’s pressure because I want to play well, but I don’t do this for a living so there’s always Monday.”