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Madison’s Newman wins Norman Puckett

Thomas Graning | The Natchez Democrat — Jonathon Newman tees off during the Norman Puckett Junior Golf Championship at Duncan Park Monday.
Thomas Graning | The Natchez Democrat — Jonathon Newman tees off during the Norman Puckett Junior Golf Championship at Duncan Park Monday.


NATCHEZ — Jonathon Newman of Summit played steady golf on the final nine holes. Griffin Agent of Madison, however, was doing anything but playing with poise and patience.

And that turned out to be the difference Monday as the 17-year-old Newman shot even-par 35 on the front nine to finish at 1-under-par 70 to win the overall championship and the boys’ 16- to 18-year-old age division at the 2014 Norman Puckett Junior Golf Championship at Duncan Park.

“It went pretty good,” Newman said. “I hit the ball good. I putted good.The course played good.”

Newman, who had four birdies and three bogeys in his round, added that by the end of the round, he did not expect to finish in first place. Agent was on a tear on the back nine, which was the opening nine holes for those golfers who played 18 holes and shot 3-under-par 33. Newman was two shots back at the turn at 1-under-par 35.

What happened on the front nine was a complete shock to those waiting for the leaders to finish their round. While Newman kept his mistakes to a minimum, 16-year-old Agent had a hard time getting tee shots to land in the fairway and ended up with a final-nine score of 40 to finish in a tie for second place with Thomas Miles of Laurel at 2-over-par 73.

“I just came out hitting it well, but I missed a few putts (on the back nine) and could’ve shot even lower,” Agent said. “I just started missing fairways here and there and that led to some bogeys (on the front nine), and a few putts.”

Miles was surprised that he was able to finish in the top three.

“I hit the ball good. It was a good day,” Miles said. “Just playing the course. The front nine was a tough nine. You had to use your head. You couldn’t just beat the course.”

Channing Curtis of Vicksburg won the boys’ 14-15 age division with a round of 5-over-par 76, one shot ahead of Jackson Wedgeworth of Soso and Parker Daily of Jackson.

John Michael Miller had a round of 7-over-par 78 to finish first in the boys’ 12-13 age division, two shots clear of division, two shots clear of Griffin’s younger brother, Lucas Agent of Madison.

Fourteen-year-old Karley Whittington of Vicksburg rallied on the back nine to upset 17-year-old Laura Phillips, also from Vicksburg, to win the girls’ 13-18 age division. Whittington finished at 11-over-par 82 while Phillips finished at 14-over-par 85.

“I didn’t play too good on the front. Laura was up by five at the turn,” Whittington said. “I had to start playing well if I wanted to have a chance to win. I’m not really happy with how I played, but it was enough to win. I love playing with Laura. Neither of us had our ‘A game.’”

Emma Wedgeworth of Soso won the girls’ 10-12 age division, which was played in nine holes, with a score of 68. She was the only competitor in that division.

Thirty-four of the best junior golfers in Mississippi competed in this year’s tournament. Three of them were from outside the Magnolia State — Kale Fontenot of Lafayette, La. and Kaden Arnold of Vidalia, who finished 1-2 in the boys’ 9-and-under division, and Parker Middleton of Atlanta, Ga., who came in second in the boys’ 11-12 age group.

“We had a great turnout. Economically, it’s a good thing for Natchez,” said Duncan Park golf course supervisor Greg Brooking. “All of the parents talked about how beautiful the golf course is.”