A trio of wins by brothers Parker and Connor Johnson highlighted the first day of action at the Baton Rouge Amateur golf tournament.
Connor Johnson won a pair of matches to advance to Sunday morning’s third round. Parker Johnson won his opening match before taking third-seeded Wendell Akins down to the wire in a 2-up defeat.
The sons of former LSU golf pro Mike Johnson, the siblings nearly pulled off a rare family act as the tournament field reduced from 64 golfers to 16. It was vindication for 22-year-old Connor Johnson, who lost in the second round in his only other amateur appearance six years ago.
“I’ve never made it to Sunday, but this is a fun tournament” Connor Johnson said of the even held annually at Santa Maria golf course. “The course is in great shape, and the greens are rolling perfect. Its probably one of the best courses in Baton Rouge right now.”
The tournament’s No. 11 seed, Connor Johnson opened with a 2-and-1 win over Blake Watts. He followed it with a 3-2 win over Randall Little in the afternoon.
Parker Johnson, 16, was seeded 30th and took a 1-up first round win over Cole Arseneault. In the second round, he was 1-down to Akins through 15 holes. Akins won 16 and closed out the 2-up win with a par on 17.
The win leaves Akins as one of the tournament favorites. A former professional who regained his amateur status earlier this year, Akins will be one of 16 golfers playing the third round of match play Sunday morning.
The surviving eight golfers will play an 18-hole stroke play final round beginning at 1 p.m.
Defending champion and top seed Scott Wilfong was ousted in the second round by No. 33 Dustin Mire. Wilfong trailed by a hole when the pair reached the 18th hole. Both players missed birdie putts before Wilfong conceded the match.
Of the day’s 48 total matches, the game between Wilfong and Mire was one of only 11 to reach the 18th hole.
Wilfong wasn’t the only highly seeded player to fall. Fifth-seeded Peyton McCulloch dropped his first-round match to Chris Leonard 2-up. Robbie White won his second-round match with No. 8 Robert McCusker 1-up in 19 holes.
Also eliminated were No. 9 Shane Starns, a 2-1 victim of Matt Decell in the afternoon. Dennis Brown, who reached the final eight last year, turned back No. 10 David Levingston 5-4 in the afternoon.
For Brown, it was all about holding his game together.
“(Levingston) made a few mistakes, and I got up early. I just made a bunch of pars,” said Brown, who was 4-up at the turn.
Second-seeded Triston Elston, who won the Baton Rouge Open last month, won 3-1 over Michael Thomas and 5-4 over Joey Indest.
“Match play is something where you can be really aggressive,” Elston said. “Even if you have a bad hole, its like a point and you only lose one point. It’s a risk-reward thing. I like it.”
Landon Covington, seeded seventh, used a 1-up win over Blaine Patin in the afternoon to advance. Patin, who will defend his LGA Mid-Amateur title next week, nearly holed a bunker shot on 18 that would have sent the match to extra holes.