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Local duo has strong showing

TEXARKANA, Ark. — The Mississippi Golf Association got off to as good of a start as it possibly could in Friday morning’s four-ball matches against the defending champion Arkansas State Golf Association at the 2013 Governor’s Cup at Texarkana Country Club.

The MGA won seven out of 10 matches and another match finished all-square, giving the challenging team 7 1/2 points to just 2 1/2 points for the ASGA.

Greg Brooking and Bill Byrne, both from Natchez, teamed up to defeat Rick Coatney of Fort Smith and Keith Browning of Bryant, 1-up. That was one of four four-ball matches that finished 1-up in favor of the MGA.

“We beat two fine players from Arkansas. They were good players,” Brooking said.

Despite his issues on the back nine, Byrne two-putted for par on the 18th hole to seal the match for him and Brooking.

“I’m very comfortable playing with Greg. He’s a real good partner. We both helped each other a lot,” Byrne said. “I played well through the first nine or 10 holes and then I just disappeared. We were very fortunate to win. It was a very tight match.”

After seven matches were completed, the MGA won five of them to give it 12 1/2 and points while the ASGA won just two of them to give it 4 1/2 points with three matches yet to be completed. The MGA won two of those three matches for 14 1/2 points while the ASGA won the other match to give it 5 1/2 points.

Brooking teamed up with Joey Landrum of Ovett to defeat Coatney and Clark Fitts of Little Rock 3&1.

“We played two really good golfers. Rick was a professional baseball player. He’s a professional athlete. He’s a really good golfer,” Brooking said. “Joey’s a real good golfer. He hit some good shots.”

Browning teamed up with Ronnie Johnson of Hot Springs to defeat Byrne and Ricky Sims of Canton 1-up.

“Ricky and I had a hard time getting any momentum. We stayed 1-down, 2-down, 1-down. We never could get even,” Byrne said. “We had a good birdie on the 17th hole to go 1-down. Then on the last hole, the other team had a good up-and-down from 20 yards off the green to tie the hole.”

Both Brooking and Byrne will start their singles matches at 8:10 a.m. today. Brooking will take on Fitts while Byrne will take on Browning. The MGA needs six points to give it the 20 1/2 total points needed to bring the Governor’s Cup back to Mississippi. The ASGA will have a long way to go to reach the 20 total points needed to keep it in Arkansas.

“We’re having a good time. It’s good competition,” Byrne said.