The weather shifted from bright sunshine to clouds and rain. But some of the biggest changes Thursday at the BREC Baton Rouge Junior Amateur Championship took place on the course.
First-round leader Blake Gautreaux saw his score soar by 11 strokes, but managed to convert a two-putt scenario on the No. 18 green to notch the victory in the boys 14- to 17-year-old division.
Meanwhile, Anna Heine improved her first round score by five strokes to claim a come-from-behind win in the girls 14-17 division as the two-day tournament concluded Thursday at BREC’s Santa Maria Golf Course.
“The big difference between yesterday and today was that I wasn’t putting as well as I did yesterday,” Gautreaux said. “And when you don’t putt well, that puts pressure on the rest of your game.”
Gautreaux shot an 8-over-par 80 and posted a two-day score of 149. The St. Amant High junior-to-be edged Grant Welch by one stroke. Welch recorded back-to-back rounds of 75 to finish at 150.
Drew Patin won a scorecard playoff to take third at 152. Sam Justice was fourth, also at 152.
Meanwhile, Heine’s 6-over 78 erased a four-shot lead that Haley Harrington held after the first round. The 12-year-old Heine had just one birdie and used 10 pars to steadily gain control. The University seventh-grader-to-be posted a two-day total of 161, two shots better than Harrington (163). Victoria Burges (219) placed third.
The victory makes Heine the second member of her family to win a BR Junior Amateur title. Her father, Randall, won the title in 1978.
“I really played it one shot and one hole at a time,” Heine said. “This means a lot. I’ve always wanted to win this one because my dad did.
“She (Harrington) didn’t play as well today, but she put pressure on me with two birdies at the end. She made me play better.”
Gautreaux’s Thursday round was the opposite of the 3-under 69 he shot to open the tournament Wednesday. He held a five-shot lead before the round began. As the morning wore on, six players eventually found themselves in contention.
Welch, a freshman-to-be at Runnels, held the lead at one point. Patin also made a late charge that included a couple of birdies.
When he approached the 18th green, Gautreaux knew he needed at least a par to get the win. A poor tee shot put that plan in jeopardy.
“I hit a bad tee shot, but I came back from it,” Gautreaux said. “I made the best of the two-putt. The thing I learned from this is you have to stay with it to the end, no matter how you’re playing.”
Welch’s play was notable for several reasons. The Runnels freshman-to-be was sidelined until a week ago with a broken ankle suffered playing basketball.
“I just tried to swing a little shorter and stay balanced,” Welch said. “There was a lot of pressure.”
Heine and Harrington, a junior-to-be at Silliman Institute, had their own special battle. Heine pulled even with Harrington after the first nine holes of the round and took the lead soon after.
“Putting is what killed me today,” Harrington said. “I couldn’t get the shots to fall like I did yesterday.”
The girls threesome of Heine, Harrington and Burges had their play interrupted briefly by a flock of a 27 geese that made their way across the No. 15 green in single file, providing a few laughs and a unique cell phone photo opportunity.
Miller Maestri also shot a 6-over 78 and finished at 157 to win the boys 12-13 division. Trey Winstead (159) was second.
Andrew Bennett, who finished with a two-day, nine-hole score of 84, won the boys 9-11 division. Kylie O’Brien (129) was the lone 9-11 girls competitor. There were no 12-13 girls competitors in the annual event.