Alexandria, Louisiana – July 7, 2020
Links on the Bayou in Alexandria will host the 63rd edition of the Louisiana Golf Association Junior Amateur Championship July 8-10, 2020. In an incredible display of support for junior golf in our state, the links course will also host the 54th Louisiana Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship, July 8-9. 93 boys and 23 girls from across Louisiana comprise the field that will compete in the Overall Championships and three Age-Group divisions. The Boys Overall Championship will be conducted over 54 holes while the Girls Overall and Boys Age-Group division winners will be crowned after 36 holes to be played Wednesday and Thursday.
Links on the Bayou has been the setting for success for two former LGA junior golfers from Shreveport. PGA Tour Professional Sam Burns fired 12-under par 204 to win the 2012 LGA Junior Amateur Championship here, a record-tying performance at the time. Philip Barbaree shattered that record to post a 54-hole total of 19-under par 197 to win the 2014 LGA Junior Amateur Championship. Barbaree went on to win the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, the first player from Louisiana to accomplish that feat. In 2016, Nick Daniel of Covington fired a final round 64 at Links on the Bayou to win the LGA Junior Amateur by one stroke in dramatic fashion. It is very promising that the 2020 LGA Junior Amateur Championships at Links on the Bayou will serve to reveal Louisiana’s next great golfers.
Nicholas Arcement of Thibodaux, the 2017 and 2019 LGA Junior Amateur Champion, is no longer eligible to compete, as he has turned 19 years old. This year’s field is extremely deep and competitive. Favorites to win the most prestigious Junior Championship in the state this year include UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns commit Eli Ortego of Broussard. Ortego finished tied for 16th in this championship a year ago, but is perhaps the most improved junior golfer in Louisiana right now. He made a tremendous statement at the 101st Louisiana Amateur Championship last month at Bayou Oaks at City Park, finishing in second place at eight-under par 280 through 72 holes. Ortego has the wherewithal to put three solid rounds together and make some noise this week. Luke Haskew of Baton Rouge finished fourth in the 2019 Junior Amateur and is fresh off a top 10 finish in the LGA Amateur. He also has the ability to go low and contend for the title.
The reigning Louisiana Junior Player of the Year, Eli Hill of Bossier City, will also be on hand to begin his 2020 campaign. Hill is an incredibly consistent player and finished tied for 7th last year. Others expected to be in contention on Friday include: Quinn Garcia of Covington (T5 in 2019), Riley Hnatyshyn of Abita Springs (T7 in 2019), and Trey Morse of New Orleans (T7 in 2019). Karan Patel of Alexandria (T7 in 2019) has played his hometown course Links on the Bayou often and will use his local knowledge to his advantage this week.
The best female junior golfers in the Bayou State will compete over 36-holes Wednesday and Thursday. 2019 Louisiana Junior Player of the Year Kaitlyn Montoya of Shreveport is coming into this event in excellent form. Montoya is committed to play for the ULM Warhawks in the fall, and she is looking to win her first state junior championship before she goes to college. Montoya won two Louisiana Junior Golf Tour events last year, and she finished runner-up in the 2019 LGA Girls’ Junior Amateur. Sarah Meral of Abita Springs and Sarah Hodson of Raceland will challenge Montoya on the links. Meral won the LJGT individual events at Squire Creek and East Ridge last year. Hodson, a Mississippi College golf commit, finished runner-up in the 2019 Girls POY race. The stage is set for an exciting week of competition.
The LGA Junior Amateur Championship holds the following performance stars for the AJGA: Champion (Fully Exempt), Top 5 (12 stars), Top 10 (8 stars), Top 15 (4 stars). This criteria groups Louisiana with larger golf states like Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, and Arizona, and it is just one example that shows the caliber of competition that will be on hand at the 63rd LGA Junior Amateur Championship. A player’s finish in the LGA Junior Amateur is a crucial factor in determining Player of the Year points that determine who gets invited to play for Team Louisiana in the Junior River Cup Matches against Mississippi. This year, Mississippi is the host state for the Junior River Cup, and it will be held at famed Old Waverly Golf Club, September 12-13.
There are multiple prizes that are distributed at the LGA Junior Amateur. The 2020 Champion will receive the “Past Champions’ Award” in the form of a $400 gift certificate that may be utilized in the Golf Shop at the host facility. In addition, the LGA has a beautiful plaque, which honors each of the past Junior Amateur Champions. This year’s Champion will have his name engraved on the plaque and will receive custody of the plaque for his Championship year, to be displayed at his home club until the 2021 Championship. He will also receive a brand-new Titleist golf bag embroidered with the LGA logo and “2020 LGA Junior Amateur Champion.” A victory at this event puts the Champion in good company. The LGA Junior Amateur Champion joins an impressive list of former Champions that includes PGA Tour winners Hal Sutton, David Toms, Willie Wood, Brian Bateman, and current PGA Tour player Sam Burns.
The Links on the Bayou course is hosting the LGA Junior Amateur Championship for the fourth time in its short history, having also been host venue for this event in 2012, 2014, and 2016. Links on the Bayou was rated the best municipal golf course in Louisiana in 2009 by Golf Digest. The Links on the Bayou course will play to a par of 72 at approximately 6,800 yards for the Overall Championship. The LGA Junior golfers are looking forward to the opportunity to play this links course, which is in superb condition for this Championship. The greens are firm and fast and the openness of the golf course allows golfers to really attack and aim for birdies. However, there are some treacherous penalty areas and thick native grass that will cause problems if a player hits the ball off track.
“We are pleased to bring this Championship to Links on the Bayou and give our junior players a chance to play this excellent golf course. Links on the Bayou and the city of Alexandria have been tremendously supportive of the LGA, and we’re excited to return to this great facility. Our competitors always look forward to coming back to test their skills against this wonderful track. We conduct our Junior Amateur Championships just like our Men’s and Women’s Amateur Championships, and we take pride in providing a first-class experience for the junior golfers who compete in this event. It is rewarding and encouraging to see that the future of golf in our state is healthy,” said LGA Director of Championship Operations Jacob Oaks.
The annual Rules Meeting and Hamburger Cookout, originally scheduled for Tuesday evening has been cancelled due to the LGA’s COVID-19 policies to prevent gatherings of people. The Championship kicks off Wednesday morning, July 8 at 7:30 AM, off the first tee. Age Group 14-15 begins at 11:10 AM, Age Group 12-13 begins at 11:50 AM, and Age Group 10-11 begins at 12:40 PM.
First round pairings and starting times for the Boys’ Championship can be found here.
Girls’ Championship pairings and starting times are here.