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Brooking heads to USGA Senior Amateur

NATCHEZ — As Greg Brooking prepares for the opportunity of a lifetime, it’s not just his golf game he’s trying to round into form.

Brooking, the golf course superintendent at Duncan Park, qualified for the United States Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship in late July. He’s also been getting treatment for chronic back problems by going to physical therapy and getting massages every week since he aggravated it at the 2013 Governor’s Cup in May.

The USGA Senior Amateur Championship begins Saturday and runs through Sept. 26 at Wade Hampton Golf Club in Cashiers, N.C. Brooking said his doctors and masseur have done a great job helping him feel well enough to play.

“I’ve spent a lot of money to be able to play in this tournament,” Brooking joked. “They’ve brought me back from the dead.”

Brooking said he’s the first person from Natchez to qualify for the USGA Senior Amateur Champion, but three other locals have qualified for USGA events: Bill Byrne, Fred Dupre and, most recently, Tom Bryant in 2010. He qualified as the low medalist by shooting 2 under par to win the Hattiesburg sectionals in late July.

“You don’t try to qualify unless you’re a pretty fair golfer,” Brooking said. “You know you’re going to play some good players.”

Brooking will head to North Carolina Wednesday and play in practice rounds on Thursday and Friday. The championship opens with two medal rounds Saturday and Sunday, followed by match play among the 64 golfers that make the cut.

As he reflects on making the USGA Senior Amateur Championship, Brooking said the best way to describe how he feels is “happy.”

“That’s the word I know to use,” Brooking said. “Golf is my life. The USGA sets the standards for golf in America, and I’m playing in a USGA event, and it’s a national championship. My hopes and aspirations are to bring a national championship back to Natchez.”

But Brooking said he realizes he’ll be going against some of the best golfers in the country.

“If you think the golfers at the qualifier were good… you take only the very best of them and send them up there,” Brooking said. “You can imagine there won’t be any slouches.”

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