Family tradition

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; For the fourth straight year the Brown boys were reunited by the Joe Fortunato Celebrity Golf Classic at Duncan Park Golf Course, and, boy, did it feel so good.

The foursome, consisting of father Louie and sons Doug, Dean and Dwayne Brown, shot a final round 57 Sunday to capture the championship flight of the 2003 event, which is the major fundraiser for the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.

&uot;Louie Brown’s putting is what won us the tournament,&uot; said Dwayne Brown, whose group finished with a 112 total after shooting 55 Saturday. &uot;It was a total team effort. We made eagle on No. 1 and that kind of got us going.&uot;

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Since Louie Brown now lives in Ridgeland, the Fortunato Classic is a chance for the family to get together and enjoy a weekend full of golf, Dwayne Brown said.

Golfers battled windy conditions and hard, fast greens that were holding very few shots Sunday.

The team of Alan Warren Jr., Bob Birtman, Burney Lummus and Jimmy Hickman beat out Howard and Lee Jones, Bob Mullins and George Johnson for second place in the championship flight despite both groups finishing at 113.

Between 180 and 200 golfers participated in the weekend’s festivities, which included meals and a gala that followed Sunday’s round.

&uot;What we’re selling is good times and entertainment,&uot; said Marvin Gray, Duncan Park PGA Tour professional. &uot;There’s not many places where people can have this good of a time, eat a bunch and raise money for a terrific cause.&uot;

The money is raised each year to dole out seven scholarships to Natchez student-athletes who represent excellence on the field and in the classroom.

The event’s namesake said he is continually amazed to watch the tournament balloon in numbers from year to year.

&uot;This a great bunch of guys who work hard and everybody who plays or doesn’t play enjoys this weekend,&uot; said Fortunato, who spent 14 years with the Chicago Bears organization as a player, then coach. &uot;What we’re doing means a lot to the young athletes around here.&uot;

The field was covered with visitors from New Orleans to Shreveport; from Baton Rouge to Monroe; from California to Houston; from Dallas to Hattiesburg.

A playoff was needed to determine the winners of the first flight.

Comparing scorecards, the team of Adrian Sandel, Kurt Russ, Hayden Kaiser and Chad Huber defeated Christian Krueger, Bruce Massey, Brandon Garrity and Joe Willis on No. 15 for first place.

&uot;The greens were burnt slap up today, but it was a fun time out there and that is what it’s all about,&uot; said Russ, who was a member of the championship flight winners in 2001. &uot;I got to play with my three best friends and we ragged on each other and had fun.&uot;

Other first-place winners included the quartet of Freddie Marks, Keith Walker, Paul Dean and Cliff Brumfield in the second flight; Braxton Hobdy, Billy Gillon, Scott Kimbrell and Phil Hale in the third flight; and Bubba Bruce, Al Strickland and Ted and Gaye Hyde in the fourth flight.