Locals Moss, McWilliams in the hunt entering AJGA final round

NEARLY NO. 1:  Benton’s Noah McWilliams had a great round Thursday at Querbes Park in the American Junior Golf Association’s Shreveport Junior and is one off the lead. 

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

When Benton’s Noah McWilliams turned in his scorecard behind the 18th green Thursday in the second round of the AJGA Shreveport Junior, he looked to be leading the field heading into the final round on Friday at Querbes Park.

Not so fast.

About 30 yards away by the 9th green, Carson Cooper (Spring, Texas) was also turning in his scorecard. And it had a number on it you don’t see too often – 29.

Starting on No. 10, Cooper shot a 29 on his second nine with six birdies to go with a rather pedestrian even-par 36 on the opening nine for a second-round 65.

Once both of the scoring computers updated, it was Cooper leading the field after two rounds at 11 under par with McWilliams one shot back.

First round leader Alejandro Fierro Saul (Mexico) is in third at 10 under par.

McWilliams had an interesting start to his round. He birdied the first, then drove his tee shot to within 30 yards of the second green. He knocked his approach shot in for an eagle. “I dunked it,” he said. “It would have been off the green if it hadn’t gone in.”

But after being three under after two holes, he bogeyed the short 3rd hole.

“A hard lip-out,” McWilliams said of his eight-foot par putt on No. 3. “It went all the way around the hole.”

From there, McWilliams had birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 for a 31 on the front nine. On the back, it was two birdies (#11 and #14) and no bogeys for a 65 to finish two rounds at 10 under par.

“I had a couple of makeable birdie putts on 15 and 16,” he said. “The conditions were tougher than yesterday for sure. I’ll come out tomorrow with the same game plan and try to make a few more putts.”

McWilliams will be in the final group with Cooper and Fierro Saul that will begin at 10 a.m. on the first tee.

Byrd’s Grant Reagan also had a big day with six birdies on the back nine to shoot a 30. He had a 66 to put himself in ninth place overall.

Also in the top 12 is Loyola product Charlie Bell, who shot a 72.

“I’m struggling with putting,” said Bell, who three-putted twice in the round. “That’s not very fun. When it’s windy like today, you really have to focus and dial in your shots. After playing good yesterday, this wasn’t what I was looking for. But there is still another day to make something happen.”

After shooting a 69, Byrd’s Sydney Moss is tied for second in the girls’ field. She and first-round leader Nicole Iniakov (California) are at 3-under par after two days and trail Anna Kate Nichols (Little Rock), who shot a 67 and leads by two shots.

“I just tried to manage my game today,” Moss said. “The wind was howling at the start but then it settled down. This golf course looks easy but it’s all about managing your way around. Tomorrow it’s just about playing my game and taking it one shot at a time.”

Moss, the only local girl in the event, will tee off on the No. 1 tee with Nichols and Iniakov at 9:20 in the final pairing of the girls competition.

For the local boys, James Holtzclaw is tied for 25th (71-73-144), Hudson Greene is tied for 37th (76-71-147), Peyton Johnson is 42nd (72-77-149), Madden Sawrie is tied for 45 (74-77-151) and Shep Smith is 49th (77-78-155).

The final round gets underway on split tees at 8 a.m.

Contact: johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com

 Photos by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL


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