By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports
When the state’s top junior golfers completed three days of play in the blistering heat at East Ridge Country Club last Friday afternoon, there were familiar faces hoisting the winners’ trophies.
Shreveport’s Sydney Moss, the 2020 champion, posted a three-day total of 9-over (72-75-75-222) to capture the 56th Louisiana Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship while Lafayette’s Kale Fontenot finished at 11-under (67-71-64-202) to successfully defend his title in the 65th Louisiana Junior Amateur Championship.
Benton’s Noah McWilliams finished in second place after posting 7-under (68-67-71-206) while Shreveport’s James Holtsclaw made (arguably) the shot of the tournament on the 54th hole to grab third place.
Holtsclaw entered the final round at 3-under, but bogeys at Nos. 6, 9, and 14 put him at even par going into the 18th hole. When his tee shot on the last hole found the back of the fairway bunker, the Byrd sophomore-to-be was 160 yards from the pin.
An unlikely up-and-down from there would give Holtsclaw not only his lone birdie of the round, but a birdie that would move him into third place.
“I decided to club up and move the ball back in my stance,” said Holtsclaw, who hit a beautiful bunker shot that rolled eight feet past the pin on the back of the green. He sank the birdie putt, unaware just how important his lone birdie of the day would prove to be.
Holtsclaw played in the final group with Fontenot and McWilliams, who battled it out all three days. McWilliams entered the final day with a three-shot lead over the defending champion, but Fontenot played a flawless round – shooting a tournament-low 7-under 64 to finish four shots ahead of the Benton standout.
“Overall, this past week was really good,” said McWilliams. “I am proud of the way I played, but a little disappointed that I didn’t get the win.”
The only other local player to finish in the Top 10 was Shreveport’s Grant Reagan, who overcame a quintuple bogey on the par 5 11th with five birdies in the final round to tie for ninth place at 5-over (77-70-71-218).
The girls’ tournament wasn’t as close as the boys’, with Moss leading wire-to-wire before capturing the title with a 10-stroke victory over Sarah Meral of Abita Springs.
“I left a lot of shots out there,” said Moss, who had four bogeys in the final round. “I knew I had a lead, and I put pressure on myself to hit perfect shots. I learned from that – that I don’t have to be perfect. It’s more about hitting quality golf shots.”
Hitting quality golf shots is exactly what Moss has been doing this summer. In addition to reclaiming the title of top junior amateur golfer in the state, the recent Byrd graduate also won the Louisiana Women’s Amateur Championship last month.
Next up – after a stop for new student orientation at the University of Memphis, where Moss will play golf next year – is the 73rd U.S. Girls’ Junior Championships at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Ky., July 18-23.
Contact Harriet at email@example.com
Photos by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD