Rains test golfers during final round of Magnolia Bluffs Casino ClassicPublished 12:02am Monday, July 15, 2013
NATCHEZ — The past few days have been emotionally charged for the golfers at the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic. Several obstacles have tested them, but Sunday, one came out on top.
Ryan Blaum pulled ahead from his third round tie with Derek Rende to win the tournament, $19,000 and an exemption into the PGA’s Sanderson Farms Championship in Madison, Miss.
Blaum finished with a 21-under-par 267. Blaum said he had a great start Sunday with a four-shot lead over Rende, who finished with a 17-under-par 271, before a rain delay was called on hole 13.
“I birdied holes nine and 10, but having a rain delay on 13 wasn’t ideal, luckily I had a four-shot lead,” Blaum said.
Rain has plagued players throughout the classic, and nobody knows that better than local Casey Ham.
Ham, the only local golfer to make the final round, was disqualified Sunday for continuing play after the horn was blown to pause all play in warning of a thunderstorm.
Ham said there was confusion on the meaning of the horn blow.
“I got confused on the rules, they blew the horn (as I was playing) and we got into a discussion about the horn meaning,” Ham said. “One blow meant to immediately stop playing, (not after you finish the hole).”
Despite the unfortunate incident, Ham said he played well.
“I proved that I could make the cut,” Ham said. “I had a great time, and it was a great learning experience. I’d like to thank my caddie Jackson Bryant, I would’ve never made it through 34 holes in one day (earlier that week) without him.”
Though the rain was a burden for Ham, it was a positive for classic runner up Rende.
“The rain delay was a good thing for me to come out and hit some balls and get a fresh start,” Rende said.
Rende said he spent most of Sunday trying to play catch up with Blaum.
“He had a three-shot lead, so I was trying to make birdies, but I couldn’t hit close,” Rende said. “I had to keep my eye on second place to get an exemption.”
Runner up got Rende an exemption to the PGA’s News Sentinel Open in Knoxville, Tenn.
Blaum, who has won several NGA tournaments and just returned from a PGA tournament last week, said he was feeling very assured throughout the final round.
“I’ve been playing well the last couple of months and looking back on the past gave me confidence,” Blaum said.
Blaum and Rende weren’t the only two to leave the tourney with their hands full. Justin Lower was the money leader for the NGA Tour to get an exemption to the PGA’s Reno-Tahoe Open in Reno, Nev.
Lower said his exemption started from the first tournament of the year through the classic, and he’s happy it did.
“I didn’t play too well in the classic, most of my success this year has come from the other (NGA) tourneys,” Lower said.