LAFAYETTE — There were times Sunday that Greg Berthelot felt like he had a target on his golf bag.
Holding a one-stroke lead over fellow Baton Rougean Brent Struthers going into the final round of the Louisiana Golf Association’s State Amateur Championship, he first weathered a torrid start from New Orleans’ Patrick Christovich, who birdied five of the first seven holes to temporarily grab the lead.
Then he had to fend off Struthers, who birdied the first four holes on Oakbourne Country Club’s back nine.
But while mistakes ultimately doomed his challengers, Berthelot made none.
And even when he seemed to make an error, overheating his downhill 30-footer for birdie on the 18th hole, it still turned out well. Berthelot’s putt rammed the back of the cup as he finished off a bogey-free 4-under par 68 to finish what turned out to be a two-stroke victory over Struthers at 12 under 276.
“This is the top,” said Berthelot, who went to Catholic and just graduated from Centenary. “The best.
“From the start, I just had to hang in there. It was hard to watch them (Christovich and Struthers) make birdies while I couldn’t make a putt for awhile.”
Christovich took the lead at 10 under through seven while Berthelot birdied the par-4 fifth to get to 9 under.
But quicker than he surged to the top, Christovich fell back. He went bogey-double bogey-double bogey on Nos. 8, 9 and 10, his tee shot finding the pond on the par-3 ninth and his second shot catching a tree branch on the par-4 10th.
Christovich birdied four of the last seven holes, but Berthelot and Struthers never gave him an opening to get back into contention. He wound up third at 279 with a 68, his third straight top-five finish in the state amateur.
“I had nine birdies. I did all I could,” Christovich said. “I just had that one goofed-up stretch.”
While Christovich stumbled, Struthers was creating essentially a match play showdown with Berthelot for the title.
A former LSU and University High golfer now working for a local commercial real estate firm, Struthers caught Berthelot with a four-foot birdie putt on the par-4 12th. The two remained tied until they reached the green on the par-4 16th.
Struthers hit his approach shot about 20 feet right of the hole, while Berthelot wound up about 16 feet away on the same line. Struthers rammed his birdie putt about five feet past the hole and missed his comeback try for par.
Berthelot, getting a read off Struthers’ putt, played more break and nestled his putt within a couple feet of the hole for a two-putt par, giving him a one-stroke lead going to 17.
After both parred the par-3 hole, the championship came down to the 18th, a 450-yard uphill par-4 with a sharp dogleg to the right.
While Berthelot drove through the bend to the left edge of the fairway, Struthers took a fairway wood and wound up well back in the dogleg. His approach shot came up right of the green next to a bunker, leaving a tough third shot.
“I knew I had to make that pitch,” Struthers said.
He almost did, pulling his shot back within a foot for a tap-in par. That left Berthelot needing two putts to win.
He only took one.
“I’m very pleased with the week I had,” Struthers said. “This may just get me back into competition more.”
Berthelot works mornings as a part-time runner at his father’s law firm and practices every afternoon. He’ll play in several more amateur events this summer — including a try at qualifying for the U.S. Amateur — before he plans to turn pro this fall.
Andrew Noto of Luling, a rising senior on the Louisiana-Lafayette golf team, was the only other player in red figures. He shot a final-round 73 to finish at 3 under 285.
Only four players outside the final group broke par Sunday, a group that included Thomas Petts of Lafayette (68), Gayle Sanchez of Baton Rouge (71) and TCU golfer Mick Huffman of Maurice (71).
Berthelot’s victory kept Struthers from becoming the fifth straight current or former LSU golfer to win the state amateur. Ken Looper (who previously played at UNO) won in 2010, preceded by Andrew Loupe (2009), Jarrod Barsamian (2008) and Chris Wells (2007).
The low 40 finishers and ties — a total of 42 players — are exempt from qualifying for next year’s State Amateur, June 7-10 at TPC Louisiana in Avondale. The course is home of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans. … 1993 amateur champion Scott Haynie of Brusly tied for 15th at 295. 2002 champion Grady Brame of Hammond and 1972 champion Robert Shelton of Lafayette tied for 21st at 297. … LSU golfer Landon Lyons of Baton Rouge tied for 32nd at 300. … Former LSU and current Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Kyle Williams made the cut, tying for 55th at 312.