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Group of 4 win at Fortunato tourney

Joe Willis, right, pumps his fit after sinking a putt on the second hole while participating in the Joe Fortunato Celebrity Golf Classic at Duncan Park Golf Course on Saturday  afternoon. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Joe Willis, right, pumps his fit after sinking a putt on the second hole while participating in the Joe Fortunato Celebrity Golf Classic at Duncan Park Golf Course on Saturday afternoon. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The team of Jeff Anderson, Casey Hamm, Kevin Smith Jr. and Jordan Farmer shot 17-under-par 54 to take a one-shot win Saturday afternoon at the 2013 Joe Fortunato Celebrity Golf Classic at Duncan Park.

The winning team in the championship flight started its round on the fourth hole and made 13 birdies to go with eagles on the par-5 fifth and 14th holes.

“I put together the best team I could — Casey, Kevin and Jordan. Those are some really good golfers,” Anderson said. “We made a couple of long putts for birdie. We used our mulligans well.”

Second place in the championship flight was the team of Arlis Rogers, Allen Smith, James Saunders and Derrick Dunnigan, which had a round of 16-under-par 55 thanks to 14 birdies and an eagle.

“We had a good round thanks to Allen Smith,” Rogers said. “Only the par-3s on the front and No. 13 we parred. We eagled 14 and birdied 15 to finish it off.”

The team of Wes Middleton, Josh Loy, Garrett Jones and Ryan Rachel finished third at 15-under-par 56. That team played its round in the morning.

Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker D.D. Lewis teamed up with James Burgess, Reggie Holley and Pete Powell to shoot 12-under-par 59 and win the first flight in a scorecard playoff over the team of Jack Benson, Bub Mullins, Lee Jones and Cole Bradford.

The annual tournament raises money for the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame’s annual scholarship fund, which awards six local prep football players with scholarship money. In addition to the door prizes offered after the tournament, for the first time this year there was a ball drop in which the winner received $1,000.

“We had the ball drop at about 12:45 p.m., and we had two winners,” incoming president Brian Fisher said. “They split the pot. One of the winners was here and one wasn’t here. They decided to split the pot instead of doing it over again.”

Fisher teamed up with Josh Hargon, Mark Carter Jr. and Jeremy Loy to win the second flight in a scorecard playoff over the team of Jimmy Moffitt, Al Lane, Freddy Marks and Al Conn after both teams carded rounds of 10-under-par 61.

The tournament hosted 24 teams — 22 four-person teams and two three-person teams — as well as the weather for this year’s tournament.

Past president Freddie Sandel said the turnout was lower than he expected.

“That’s down from past years. Last year, we had 96 or 98 (participants). This area’s exasperated with golf tournaments,” Sandel said. “The weather was perfect for golf. This morning was a little bit cool. After about 10 a.m., it was perfect. This is probably the most enjoyable golf tournament in Natchez.”

One person who said he would like to see more people not only play in this tournament, but get involved in it was former South Natchez and Ole Miss football standout Burkes Brown, whose father Allen does the cooking for this event.

“I think we had a great turnout,” Burkes said. “Everybody really enjoyed it. It’s for a great cause. We need to have more people come out here.”

With that in mind, Burkes said he’d like it to go back to being a two-day tournament.

“The more people we can get people involved in it, the more we can do for the community,” he said. “This is soon going to get where we need more people to keep it going.”