Benton’s McWilliams sizzles with 60s, runs away with LJGT crown

TIGER ROARS: Benton’s Noah McWilliams shot a 7-under 64 in the final round to take the Boys’ Overall (13-18) title at the Louisiana Junior Golf Tour’s event Sunday afternoon at Querbes Park Golf Course.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

After a scorching front nine Sunday afternoon, Benton’s Noah McWilliams held off the field to capture the Overall Boys’ (13-18) title at the Louisiana Junior Golf Tour’s event at Querbes Park Golf Club. The 2021 LGA Player of the Year followed Saturday’s first-round 2-under 69 with a 7-under 64 in the final round.

McWilliams, who entered Sunday’s second and final round two shots behind leader Alston Manne of Baton Rouge, went on a tear to separate himself early from the rest of the field. The Benton High School junior was 7-under par through the first eight holes after five birdies and a chip-in for eagle on No. 2. The only blemish on his card on the front was a bogey on the par-3 ninth hole.

“I started really good,” McWilliams said. “I had the putter rolling.”

Manne, who followed his first-round 4-under 67 with a final-round 2-over 73, finished in a tie for second place at 2-under with Byrd High School sophomore Grant Reagan. Reagan fought back from a 2-over 73 on Saturday with a 4-under 67 on Sunday.

McWilliams gave another shot back to the field with a second straight bogey on the par-4 10th hole but recovered with a 6-footer to save par on No. 11. He hit his second shot on the par-5 just left of the green, chipped over it on his third shot and two-putted from off the green to save par.

“I knew I had a pretty good lead (at the turn),” said McWilliams. “Then I think I got a little jittery. I ended up bogeying No. 12.”

The jitters didn’t last long, however, as McWilliams sank a 30-footer for eagle on the par-4 14th hole to get him back on track. While McWilliams has had two eagles in a round before, Sunday marked the first time he has done it on two par-4’s.

McWilliams, Reagan, Manne, and David Marsh of Baton Rouge were the only players to shoot under par for the tournament. Marsh shot a final-round 70 to finish in fourth place at 1-under, followed by Broussard’s Ben Blanco (even) in fifth, and Shreveport’s Ryder Briggs in sixth place at 2-over. Shreveport’s Maxwell McDonald and Benton’s Cason Toms tied for seventh at 3-over.

Shreveporters James Holtsclaw, Shep Smith, and Charlie Bell finished in a tie for ninth place at 4-over.

While Marsh’s 1-under put him in fourth place of the Overall Boys’ 13-18 division, it was good enough to give him first place in the Overall Boys’ 15-under division.

Hudson Green of Bossier City finished at 3-under to take first place in the Boys’ 11-13 division, followed by Broussard’s Noah Chauvin (1-over) and Logansport’s Slayte Guidry (5-over). Shreveport’s Reed Winkler (30-over) and Tillman Brown (45-over) finished fifth and seventh, respectively.

The battle for the title in the Overall Girls’ (13-18) division went down to the wire as Mattie Purgahn of Lake Charles and Vivian Volion of Springfield both finished at 15-over. Purgahn defeated Volion on the first playoff hole.

Photo by JOHN PENROD