Jacob Bergeron, though only 17, has played so many rounds at Oak Harbor Golf Club that he practically can see the course in his sleep.
Drive the ball here, chip the ball there, putt it right into the center of the cup — he knows all the nooks and crannies of the par 72 course just south of Slidell.
Despite his age, that sort of “wisdom” has Bergeron solidly in the lead of The Mackel — or the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Championship of New Orleans.
The first round took place Saturday, with tiered flights set to tee off Sunday morning.
This is the second year the 22-year old tournament has taken place on the north shore.
Bergeron, a home-schooler, shot 4-under par 68 to take a strong lead into Sunday’s final round of play.
His next closest competitor, fellow Slidell resident Jack Abney, was at even-par 72.
Matthew Jakuback also shot 72.
“Playing out here each day, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that I know where to hit every time, what to do every time,” Bergeron said. “But I was able to keep my head, and go through the process, one shot at a time.”
Bergeron said there was little problem with his game Saturday.
“I drove the ball really well today,” he said. “As long as I was driving the ball today, it gave me a lot of short shots into greens for wedges. But I was solid all around today. I hit the greens and made all the putts you’re supposed to make.”
Abney, 41, said he played a practice round at nearby Pinewood Country Club on Friday. It was the first time he picked up a club in almost a month.
Still, the former Tulane standout’s round was good enough for second place and a shot at Bergeron on Sunday.
“It doesn’t hurt,” Abney said, when asked if his familiarity with Oak Harbor helped his game Saturday. “Today was a mixed bag. I hit a lot of good shots and I hit a lot of bad shots.”
Buck Williams, the 2013 Mackel champ, shot 1-over 73 on Saturday and also has himself in prime position, should Bergeron come back to the field Sunday.
“I didn’t hit the ball really well,” the former Wake Forest star and current New Orleans resident said. “My iron play was really bad. I hit a lot of putts that didn’t go in too.
“I lipped out on three or four putts. I’ve been hitting it pretty well lately, there just wasn’t a lot of good ball-striking today.”
Slidell’s Bob Neal was tied with Williams with a 73 after one round of play.
More than 80 golfers, in six different divisions, are entered in this year’s tournament — the preeminent amateur golfing event in south Louisiana each year.
The leaders are expected to tee off at about 1 p.m. Sunday.