Long birdies key to leaders at Wharlest Jackson

Published 1:59 am Sunday, June 24, 2007

NATCHEZ — Thanks to several key long birdie putts, the team of Scottie Southall and Bruce Thompson shot a bogey-free 10-under-par 62 Saturday to take a one-shot lead at the 2007 Wharlest Jackson Elks Lodge Invitational at Beau Pré Country Club.

“We made a lot of putts. We didn’t hit the ball well, but we made a lot of long putts — 17, 18-foot putts,” Southall said. “We turned a 66 into a 62. We don’t normally play that well.”

Southall and Thompson will have to play at least that well to hold off the challenge of eight teams who are within three shots of the leaders in the championship flight of this tournament, which is in its seventh year.

Email newsletter signup

Two teams are tied for second place after finishing with rounds of 9-under-par 63 — Chris Kelley and Kurt Russ as well as Clay Arnold and Jackson Bryant.

“It was all Chris. He’s that good,” Russ said. “We had nine birdies. We didn’t birdie but two of the par-5s. We could’ve shot one or two shots better. We’re going to have to shoot 60 or 59 to have a chance.”

“We just hit our approach shots close. A bunch of them were real close, especially on the first few holes on the back nine,” Bryant said. “We had gimme birdie putts. We had 10 birdies and one bogey on No. 9.”

The Southall-Thompson team will be paired with the Kelley-Russ team. Their rounds start at 11:50 a.m. Tee times for the final round start at 9 a.m.

The team of Bates Browning and Kenny Wells is two shots back with a round of 8-under 64. Browning and Wells had nine birdies to go with one bogey.

“It was a total team effort,” Wells said. “The greens were rolling great. The bogey we made was on No. 13, the par-3. Other than that, we played steady. We hit fairways, we hit greens and we made putts.”

An incredible five teams are just three shots back with rounds of 7-under-par 65 — David Cothren and Gary Farmer; Tommy Geogehgan and Jeff Anderson; Lee Jones and Tripp Bryant; Trez Simmons and Richey Perry; and Al Guido and Bobby Meason.

“We played good. We didn’t make any putts, but we had a good time,” Jones said. “We made eight birdies and one bogey (No. 13). We’ll probably have to shoot a little better number than we did today.”

“It was all Al,” Meason said. “We had two birdies (Nos. 13 and 17) and nine birdies. We played good, except for those two holes.”

“My partner’s on the long drive tour. He’s a professional long driver,” Perry said about Simmons. “We had eight birdies and one bogey. We putted the ball pretty well. I played well. He drove a couple of greens. He got on the green on 15 and we three-putted for par.”

Twenty-seven teams are playing in this year’s two-man scramble with all proceeds benefiting student scholarships.

And nearly all of those teams have a shot of winning their respective flight.

The last two teams who teed off on Saturday, Dee Barron and John Nelson were paired with Charles Yarbrough and Mark Dunn, both finished with the same score — 5-under-par 67 — to lead the first flight and those two teams will be in the same pairing today as they start their rounds at 10:30 a.m.

Leading the second flight are two teams who had rounds of 2-under 70. Those are the teams of Wade Heatherly and Paul Byrne as well as Terry Overland and Kevin Watkins.