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Senior golf: Powell leads early

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Linda Gardner watches the ball down the 8th fairway while golfing Saturday afternoon during the Natchez Ladies and Seniors Golf Championship at Duncan Park.

NATCHEZ — While the cloudy, cold and windy conditions on Saturday did make for higher scores in the first round of the 2012 Senior Men’s and Ladies City Golf Championships at Duncan Park, there were a few players who managed to overcome those elements.

Pete Powell had six birdies and an eagle on No. 7 en route to a round of 6-under-par 65 to take an overwhelmingly commanding lead in the super senior men’s (60-69) division.

“I played pretty good. I putted really well,” Powell said. “I had to 7-under-par and then I three putted 17 to get back to 6-under. The greens were in super shape. They rolled to where if you hit it on line, it stayed on line. It didn’t bounce any. If the greens are in bad shape, you can’t shoot that score.”

Powell said he was surprised he had such a low round considering how strong the wind was blowing out of the north — at times over 20 miles per hour.

Duncan Park golf course superintendent Greg Brooking had five birdies and an eagle on his way to a round of 4-under-par 67 to take the lead in the senior men’s (50-59) division.

“I had a real good day. Birdies and eagles were flying everywhere,” Brooking said. “I was fortunate to finish bogey-bogey (on 17 and 18). I had five birdies on the front and two on the back.”

Nate Leonard and George Cupit are both three shots back of Brooking in the senior division at 1-under-par 70.

“Nate had five birdies and an eagle. The reason he shot 70 is because he shot bogey-bogey-bogey-double bogey on his last four holes,” Brooking said. “If he doesn’t do that, he ties Pete.”

As for Cupit, he described his round as “satisfying.” And that was despite three-putting No. 10 and No. 12. He added that No. 17 played longer than all of the par-5 holes because of the wind.

“I had four birdies. That’s a good score for me,” Cupit said.

Another participant who said he is enjoying playing in the tournament is Natchez native Skeeter Reed, who now resides in Long Beach. He is the son of former South Natchez head football coach Ed Reed.

“Duncan Park had tradition and flavor. You can’t beat it,” Reed said. “Supporting the golf course and Natchez, everyone should do it. To come back here and play with friends, win, lose or draw, makes for a great day and a great tournament.”

Reed is also in the senior men’s division and had an opening-round score of 77.

Babe Huff led the legends men’s (70+) division after shooting a 78. Just two shots back with a round of 80 is Cornelious Lewis. Louie Brown is in third place after a round of 86.

Fran Farmer had a round of 75 to take the lead in the ladies division. She said this one of just a handful of times she has shot in the 70s.

“I thought it was very well for me. I enjoyed playing with Linda (Gardner) and Kathy (Graning). It was very cold,” Farmer said. “We missed our regular people who play in this tournament, Rose Smith and Mia Taylor. Rose moved to Houston and Mia had to work.”

Gardner is just two shot behind Farmer after an opening-round 77. Afterwards, she joked that she won her age group.

“I wasn’t concerned with the cold and the wind,” Gardner said. “It started out really well. I parred the first two holes. Then I struggled to make par. I had one birdie, some pars and some bogeys. Overall, I was pleased with the score, especially in these conditions.”

Tee times for today’s final round start at 10:30 a.m.