Former mayor Phillip West lines up a putt on hole seven during the Bill McKinney Memorial Natchez City Championship golf tournament at Duncan Park Saturday. (Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat)
Former mayor Phillip West lines up a putt on hole seven during the Bill McKinney Memorial Natchez City Championship golf tournament at Duncan Park Saturday. (Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat)

Farmer leads with 4-under-par 67 in Bill McKinney tournament

Published 12:01am Sunday, August 4, 2013

NATCHEZ — Jordan Farmer and Casey Ham were in the same pairing in Saturday’s first round of the 2013 Bill McKinney Memorial City Golf Championship at the Duncan Park Golf Course.

Yet something unusual happened between the two young golfers — they went in completely opposite directions once the back nine started.

Farmer had an up-and-down front nine and was 1-under-par at the turn before making birdies on three straight holes and four out of five. He ended up as the leader of the championship flight at 4-under-par 67.

“I hit the ball decent all day,” Farmer said. “I didn’t really do anything on the front.”

After a birdie on No. 2, Farmer went back to even par on the round with a bogey on No. 3. He was at 2-under after birdies on Nos. 5 and 7, but a bogey on No. 8 dropped him back to 1-under.

Farmer got his round going thanks to birdies on 10, 11 and 12 before a par on the difficult par-3 13th hole momentarily ended his birdie streak. Another birdie on the par-5 14th hole put him at 5-under for the day before bogeying the 16th hole.

“They’re birdies holes. That got me back in the tournament,” Farmer said about those four holes. “Overall, I let a lot out there. Hopefully, I can bring it home tomorrow.”

Ham couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as he had five birdies and just one bogey on the front nine to make the turn at 4-under-par. He birdied 1, 4 and 5 before three-putting on 7 to stand at 2-under-par. He then birdied 8 and 9 to get to 4-under and it looked like he was going to have the first-round lead.

But he couldn’t keep the momentum going. Ham had bogeys on 11, 13 and 17. That was surprising enough. Even more surprising — no birdies on the back as he finished at 1-under-par 70 as he stands in fifth place.

“I played alright on the front. Didn’t hit the ball well on the back,” Ham said. “I just lost focus.”

In between those two are a trio of players who had rounds of 2-under-par 69 — Greg Brooking, Bill Byrne and Lloyd Trisler.

Both Brooking and Byrne had four birdies to go with two bogeys in their rounds while Trisler had five birdies and three bogeys in his round.

“A good, solid round of golf. I putted the ball real well,” Brooking said. “Bill had a really good round. He hits the ball straight.”

Brooking was among several players that had play through a temperature well into the 90s and a heat index of over 100 degrees because of the high humidity.

“There were several players that said it was hot. But everybody enjoyed the tournament,” Brooking said. “The golf course is pretty fair. If you hit it in the rough, you’ll pay for it. The pace of play was good.”

Brooking added that he was very pleased that the turnout for this year’s tournament reached its capacity of 90 players.

“We filled it up. We’re excited about it. I don’t know what we’ll do next year. A hundred players want to play next year,” Brooking said.

As for how his round went, Byrne said, “I just hung in there. I hit the ball well and made some putts. Looking forward to tomorrow.”

Keith Rayborn is in sixth place after shooting a round of even par 71. He had two birdies and two bogeys during his round.

“The course is in great shape. The fairways are the best I’ve ever seen them,” Rayborn said.

Seven players are in a tie for seventh place in the championship flight at 1-over-par 72, including past city champions Pete Powell, Jay Lessley and Kevin Smith Jr.

“I just mishit a lot of shots,” Powell said. “Overall, I didn’t play very well. The course is in good shape. I just didn’t play very well.”

Tee times for today’s championship round begin at 7:45 a.m.