Notre Dame's Kyle Camp to compete in annual All-Star golf event

CROWLEY – The 2012 prep golf season is not quite over for Kyle Camp.

The Notre Dame junior will be participating in the Louisiana Champions Invitational this morning when Tamahka Trails Golf Club at Paragon Casino Resort plays host to the 10th annual event.

The tournament is sanctioned by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association as the official All-Star event for prep golfers.

“I’m very happy to have made it again, but I’m hoping I will do better this year than I did past few years,” said Camp, who will be competing in the invitational for the third straight year. “Last year, I played bad on the backside, but I played pretty good on the front.

“I just have to keep it together over there.”

Camp will be joined by the state’s top golfers in the 32-player field that includes five of the six reigning boys’ high school state champions as well as all six runnersup. Participants will be competing for $1,500 in scholarship funds in the boys’ and girls’ divisions.

Camp, who was the Division III state champion in 2010 and finished third in 2011, qualified for the tournament by placing fourth at the state tournament this year.

“I played good on the first day (of the state tournament),” said Camp, who shot a 69 in the opening round. “I made a lot of putts in the first round, but on the second day, I just couldn’t get the ball to fall.”

The one-day, 18-hole tournament has a restricted field and is open only to boys who finished in the top five individually in their respective high school state tournament divisions. Of the 30 boys eligible to participate (the top five from six LHSAA divisions), 27 accepted slots in the tournament and will be participating.

This year’s boys’ field is an experienced group with six players making at least their second appearance in the invitational.

Alexandria Senior High School’s Chuck Spears and Daniel Deloach lead the pack, each having played in the event the last three years. Spears, a senior and LSU signee, won the Division II state title two weeks ago after carding a 141 at Oak Wing in Alexandria while Deloach, also a senior, was third with a 151.

Loyola Prep comes in the most entrants after sweeping the top three honors at the Division III tournament in Zachary. Eric Richard successfully defended his individual state title by carding a two-day total of 135 after firing a second-day 68. Richard’s two-day total was the lowest round shot by any golfer in state tournament competition this year.

Richard will be joined in the All-Star tournament by teammates Kirk Thomas, who was second at state with a 141, and Ryan Crissman who was third at 144.

Calvary Baptist’s Sam Burns enters the event with the second lowest state championship round total. The freshman shot a final-round 69 to overtake Dunham’s Conner Cavin and capture the Division IV individual state title with a two-round total of 138 at The Atchafalaya at Idlewood Golf Course in Patterson.

Zachary’s Drew Patin was crowned the Division I champion after shooting a 67 on the opening day of action at Copper Mill Golf Club in Zachary. The second day was canceled due to inclement weather.

The fifth and final champion participating in the event is Episcopal of Acadiana senior Ben Como. The University of Louisiana-Lafayette signee shot a 150 to claim the Division VI title.

“I know a lot of the guys that I will be playing against,” said Camp of the invitational field. “There’s a lot of good golfers and it’s going to be tough.”

Play will begin at 8 o’clock this morning over the par-71 Tamahka Trails layout, with the boys’ course to be set at 7,000 yards and the girls’ course to be set at 5,600 yards - both at college standards, as compared to normal shorter course setup for high school players.

“The course is much longer than what we are used to playing during the high school season,” said Camp. “It brings a lot more bunkers into play. They have a lot of fairway bunkers that come into play just because the tees are back.”

Those bunkers have been a challenge for Camp, who shot an 85 at last year’s event and finished 11 shots back of champion Brandon Newton of Cedar Creek.

“The fairway bunkers have given me trouble over the last few years,” admitted Camp. “That’s probably some of the hardest fairway bunkers to hit out of.”

However, Camp is hoping that his experience of playing in the tournament the last three years will give him an edge.

“I know the course now,” said Camp. “I’ll just have to play smart. I’ll just have to play my own game.”

Last year, Newton won the event on the boys’ side with a three-over par 74. Neville’s Anna McMullen shot an 83 to win on the girls’ side.

Newton claimed his fourth straight Division V state title two weeks ago at Links on the Bayou in Alexandria but will not be competing in today’s tournament. McMullen is currently playing collegiate golf at William and Mary in Williamsburg , Virginia .

The girls’ field is headed up by Division I state champion and LSU signee Elise Bradley of Mandeville and Division II winner Lana Hodge of Ouachita Christian. Hodge, a junior, fired a two-day total of 144 in the state tournament at Copper Mill while Bradley shot a 147 at the Alexandria Golf and Country Club.

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