Covich in first at GSPGA Tuesday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Jerry Covich didn’t expect to be the leader of the Gulf States PGA Senior Section Championship. He even didn’t think his 2-under-par 70 on Tuesday would hold up against some tough competition.

But Covich, representing The Oaks Golf Course in Pass Christian, is the overall leader and he has a one-shot lead going into today’s final round at Beau Pr Country Club.

&uot;It was up and down. I was pretty solid the first 11 holes,&uot; Covich said. &uot;I putted decently.&uot;

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Covich was 2-under after birdies on Nos. 5 and 11, but a bogey on the short par-4 12th followed by another bogey on No. 14 put him at even-par with four holes to play.

Then Covich caught a huge break on the difficult par-3 16th hole.

&uot;I made a good putt on 16 from barely on the front of the green from about 30 feet,&uot; Covich said. &uot;I thought I had putted hit two hard.&uot;

Covich nearly made another birdie on No. 17, but had to settle for a par, then birdied the par-5 18th hole to take what he thought would be a short clubhouse lead.

&uot;I’m sure someone will shoot 8-under,&uot; he said.

Much to his surprise, no one even came close to a 64.

Hogan’s 1-under 71 not only put him one shot behind Covich overall, but it also put him in the lead in the Club Professional Championship portion of the tournament.

&uot;My round was solid, except I left a few putts out there,&uot; Hogan, representing Golf Outings of Louisiana of New Orleans said. &uot;I hit the ball good. This is my first Senior event, so I’m a rookie. I had one bogey, two birdies and innumerable pars.&uot;

Hogan birdied 1 and 10, but a bogey on the par-3 13th cost him a share of the overall lead.

Four players are three shots back with rounds of 73, with three of them in the CPC qualifier, including Stan Stopa, representing Audubon Park Golf Course in New Orleans, who overcame bogeys on Nos. 1 and 2 with a back-nine, 1-under 35 to stay in contention.

&uot;I played good all day,&uot; Stopa said. &uot;Got off to a bad start. I should’ve played better. I’m trying to overcome playing bad golf the last two years. I’m trying to get my game going.&uot;

Stopa said he hopes his play on the back nine will turn his game around for the better.

&uot;We’ll find out tomorrow,&uot; he said.

Rich Fulkerson, who won the CPC qualifier at Beau Pr last year, shot a surprising 3-over 74 in his first round.

&uot;I hit the ball real well. I had a couple of mis-hits,&uot; Fulkerson said. &uot;I never could seem to get the putter going. But there’s always tomorrow.&uot;

Fulkerson, representing Pine Belt National Golf Club in Hattiesburg, had two birdies, one on the par-3 7th and the other on 18 after just missing a 15-foot eagle putt, as well as four bogeys.

The top three in the CPC qualifier will advance to play in the national SCPC in Port St. Lucie, Fla. in late October.

In the Gulf States PGA Super Senior Championship, Doug Farr, representing Gray Plantation in Lake Charles, La., took the first-round lead with a 1-over 73.

&uot;My putter saved me,&uot; Farr said. &uot;I had five birdies, which is better than I’ve been doing, four bogeys and a double bogey. I only had a couple of bad holes, but other than that I kept it in play. I could’ve made a couple of more birdies.&uot;

Charlie Dugas, who was paired with Farr on Tuesday and is representing the Lafayette, La., Golf Academy, is one shot back with a 74.

&uot;I hit the ball well off the tee,&uot; Dugas said. &uot;I shot 34 on the front side. I had six birdie attempts and made two of them. The back side I hit the ball well. I had one bad hole on No. 12. I hit a fade into the waste bunker and made 7.&uot;

Gerald Gatlin, representing the Royal Golf Course in Slidell, La. and is playing for the first time since early June because of a rotary cuff in his right shoulder, is two shots back after shooting a 75.

Gatlin won the GSPGA Seniors Championship in 1994 and the GSPGA Super Seniors Championship at Beau Pr just two years ago.

&uot;I played well today,&uot; Gatlin said. &uot;I was real happy with the way I played. I’ve always putted well. My game was really together. I shot 1-under on the front and 4-over on the back.&uot;