LAFAYETTE — The heat and pressure of Saturday’s third round left the leaderboard at the Louisiana Golf Association’s State Amateur Championship looking pretty much the same as it did going in.
The scores — and the players — were just cooked down a bit.
Baton Rouge golfers Greg Berthelot and Brent Struthers continue to run first and second, though their standing took one last switch with a two-stroke swing on the 18th hole at Oakbourne Country Club.
Berthelot made a birdie from the trees after trying to cut the dogleg on the par-4, 450-yard finishing hole, tracking a 25-foot downhill putt in for birdie.
“I overcut my drive and hit it in the trees,” said Berthelot, who played at Catholic High and Centenary. “It was barely in bounds. I was just trying to get on the green with a 9 iron and made the putt.
“That putt on 18 was a big confidence boost for (Sunday).”
Struthers played it straight but hit the fairway much farther back, coming up short and right of the green then missing an 8-footer for par.
“I didn’t chip well all day,” said Struthers, a former player at LSU and University High.
“I haven’t been in competition very much lately. I’m just glad to be here.”
Berthelot shot a 2-over par 74 to finish at 8-under 208, while Struthers shot a 1-under 71 to stand at 7-under 209. Their playing partner Patrick Christovich of New Orleans remained in third place with an even-par 72 to finish at 5 under 211.
“I’m pretty frustrated,” Christovich said. “I didn’t hit it very well today. I was two over after the first four holes. I did as well as I could.”
Berthelot, Struthers and Christovich will play together again in Sunday’s final group. Without any of the on-course leaderboards typically found at a professional tournament, most players consider it an advantage to be able to keep an eye on what the other contenders are doing.
“It’s definitely a lot better knowing where you stand,” said Berthelot, who shot the tournament’s best round (65) on Friday. “I just want to play the best I can.”
Christovich tied for third and fourth in the last two state amateurs but had to come from well back instead of being able to play in the final group.
“It’s fun to be in the mix this year,” he said.
Good scores were much more difficult to come by in Saturday’s third round.
There were seven rounds in the 60s the first two days, but none of the 57 players who made the cut were able to break 70. Saturday’s best score was a 70, turned in by TCU golfer Mick Huffman of Maurice.
First-round leader Andrew Noto of Luling, a rising senior on the Louisiana-Lafayette golf team, could have been in the final group or in or near the lead but came to grief on a hole he’s played many times.
Noto rinsed a pair of balls in the pond fronting the green on the 173-yard par-3 ninth hole, leading to a quadruple bogey 7. Noto recovered to shoot 4-under on the back nine and post a 71 to wind up in fourth at 212.
Robby Going of Lake Charles was the only other player in red figures, shooting a 74 to stand alone in fifth at 1 under 215.
James Fuselier of LaPlace finished his third round in style, holing out on 18 for an eagle 2. Fuselier used a 7-iron from 168 yards. Fuselier shot a 75 and is tied for 31st at 9 over 225. … Former LSU and University of New Orleans golfer Ken Looper, who won the State Am in 2010 at Koasati Pines in Kinder, did not enter this year’s event. … The top 40 finishers and ties Sunday will be exempt from qualifying for the 2012 State Amateur at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, home of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The state am was last played there in 2007. … There is no admission charge to attend today’s final round.