Rod Baronet usually employs a charging, go-for-broke strategy on the golf course, but trying to win a tournament can dictate a different plan.
Saturday afternoon, Baronet concerned himself with pars, and shot 1-over-par 73 to win the Louisiana Golf Association’s Senior Amateur Championship at the University Club.
Baronet’s three-day total of 212 (4 under) was enough to hold off Covington’s Tommy Brennan, who shot 68 to finish at 1-under. Baronet and Brennan were the only golfers under par.
Baton Rouge’s Gayle Sanchez was third at 220. Sanchez shot a second consecutive 71 after a first-day 78. Defending champion Bob Cooper of Monroe placed fourth at 221, and Baton Rouge’s Jim Adams and Delhi’s Frank Maxwell tied for fifth at 222.
“I’m not all that comfortable playing with a huge lead,” said Baronet, who lives in Lecompte. “I don’t play conservatively very well, and this was a round that calls for conservative play — a make them come and get you type thing.
“I knew Tommy was a good player, and it would take a real, real good round unless I gave a bunch back. I was just trying to make pars. I’m not fond of it, but sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Baronet opened with a 73 on Thursday, and came back Friday with a 66, the low round of the tournament. It was a round that left Baronet eight shots ahead of second-place Brennan at 3 over.
Baronet played his final round with Brennan, and Luke Scobel. Scobel shot 75 to finish tied for seventh at 223.
“I had no control over (Baronet), so I said let’s see if we can get to even par early on,” said Brennan, who birdied 6, 8 and 9 to make the turn at even.
“Then, I said let’s see if we can get to 3 or 4 under on the back nine, and don’t worry about what he’s doing.”
Brennan, who won the last of seven LGA Mid Amateur championships in 2009, birdied 12, but missed birdie putts inside of 15 feet at 11 and 13.
Still, when Brennan stepped to the 14th tee, Baronet’s eight-shot lead had been trimmed to five. Brennan appeared ready to finally put pressure on Baronet, but it wasn’t to be.
Brennan bogeyed 14 after a distraction at the tee box led to a short drive. It was made all the more frustrating when Baronet bogeyed 14, as well.
Chances at 15 and 16 came and went with par for Brennan, whose 20-foot birdie putt at 15 ducked below the hole six inches from the cup.
Baronet pushed his tee shot at 16 to the right fringe where a bad lie led to a bad chip. Baronet missed a long par putt and made bogey.
Down four shots with two holes to play, Brennan hit his tee shot at the par-5 17th into pinestraw right of the fairway.
Teeing last, Baronet then pulled his drive left of the fairway into a water hazard. But Baronet hit a fairway metal to within 25 yards of the green, and went on to save par. Brennan made birdie, but it mattered little with only one hole to play.
“The only thing I didn’t want to do was change my game plan,” Baronet said. “I knew (Brennan) was there. I knew he was coming, but he never crowded me enough to change my game plan.”
The win capped a tournament in which Baronet played the first two rounds with defending champion Cooper, who was a teammate of Baronet’s when they played collegiately for Louisiana-Monroe in the early ’80s.
“I didn’t get to play last year because of a schedule conflict, but I was looking forward to this,” Baronet said. “Being fortunate enough to come down here and spend three days playing golf is special, but being able to win is really special.”