With a format that tests endurance as well as golf skills, the annual test known as the Baton Rouge Amateur awaits top local amateurs this weekend.
Hosted by Santa Maria golf course, the tournament begins at 7 a.m. Saturday. Its format squeezes three rounds of match play along with an 18-hole stroke play final round into one weekend.
Peyton McCulloch, a college junior who plays for Nicholls State, knows the challenge well. He has played the tournament the past three years including a second-place finish last year.
“It’s a test because it’s 36 holes each day. With this heat, it’s all about endurance and whether you can make it through,” McCulloch said. “I hope to just win one match at a time and put myself in position to win the tournament.”
A position to win would mean lasting until Sunday afternoon’s stroke play final round. By that time, the field of 64 will have been reduced to the final eight players, and the format changes.
Last year, Scott Wilfong birdied the par-5 18th to win the tournament by a stroke over Scott Haynie. McCulloch bogeyed 18 and finished third.
“I’m hoping to get through my matches just like I did last year,” McCulloch said. “I want to put myself in position to win the tournament, and in order to do that, I have to win one match at a time.”
Wilfong returns to defend his title, and is the No. 1 seed. McCulloch is playing his third tournament of the summer, and is seeded fifth. He finished tied for 20th at the LGA State Amateur tournament and was third last month at the Baton Rouge Open.
The Baton Rouge Open champion, Triston Elston, is the No. 2 seed. Elston used a steady final round, shooting 4-under-par 140 to win the tourney, also at Santa Maria.
Former Baton Rouge Open champion Wendell Akins is the third seed. He is followed by Haynie, a seven-time winner of the Baton Rouge Amateur.
Sixth-seeded Mike Drury tied for second earlier this summer at the Dumas Memorial Championship with No.9 Shane Starns.
The top senior entrant is No. 8 Robert McCusker, who won the 2014 LGA Senior Amateur at The Bluffs in St. Francisville. McCusker, who will have a chance to defend his title in late August, had a three-round total of 4-under 212. The only golfer under par, he won the tournament by five shots.