Special Olympics athletes compete in annual tourney

Published 2:22 am Sunday, May 11, 2008

NATCHEZ — Though there were eagles, birdies and even a hole-in-one, Saturday’s golf tournament wasn’t about the scores at all.

The round at Duncan Park was about lessons, moments and relationships.

And just like every year, the Special Olympics Area 7 Benefit Golf Tournament was a plain ole good time.

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Eight Special Olympics athletes played among 108 players.

And the scores from the four-person scramble were quite low — perhaps the lowest they’ve ever been, especially with nearly half of the 27 teams with rounds in the 50s.

The Wilson Supply team of K.G. Watkins, Bubba Bruce, Allen Smith and Michael Essary, the next-to-last group to finish its round, took first place in the championship flight with a scorching round of 19-under-par 52 — three shots better than the second- and third-place teams.

“We had two eagles on the day. We drove the ball on No. 12 and it hit the flag stick and almost went in. Stopped about a foot from the hole,” Watkins said. “We also eagled No. 14. We had all birdies on the front. We had one par and that was on No. 15. Some of the holes we should’ve eagled. I was happy. We had four good guys out there.”

A scorecard playoff determined second and third place in the championship flight after both teams had rounds of 16-under-par 55.

The Tower Automotive team that had Special Olympics athlete Haley Freeman, Travis Freeman, Bob Baughn, Alan Bennett and Brian Toth finished in second place.

“Everybody contributed equally,” said Toth, who along with Bennett is from Brandon. “We hit it OK. We all putted very good. We had an eagle on No. 12.”

After their tee shot went just past the green on that hole, Bennett chipped in for eagle.

Third place was the Car Quest team that had Special Olympics athlete Carl Washington and tournament co-chairman Charles Mardis as well as Kurt Russ, Christian Krueger and Dawn Watson.

“We did real good. We had Dawn play from the ladies’ tees. She kept us in the middle,” Mardis said. “Carl made a couple of birdies for us. We had an enjoyable time today with Carl. That’s the best he’s ever hit them. Kurt was driving it strong down the middle.”

There was also a hole-in-one during the tournament and that was by 14-year-old Steve Scarborough, who is a member of Cathedral’s golf team. Scarborough’s ace was on the par-3 15th hole from 180 yards out with a 4-iron.

“I was kind of surprised,” Steve said. “Didn’t hit it that great. I was kind of lucky.”

One of the witnesses of Steve’s ace was his father, Dr. Bruce Scarborough.

“It just landed on the green and rolled in,” Bruce said. “I walked up to the green to see if it was his ball. When I told him what he did, he had his mouth around his knees. He got that real sheepish grin on his face.”

The other witnesses to the hole-in-one were teammates Jared McPhate, Shot Gwin and Rudy Wilson. Steve won a set of irons from hole sponsor Great River Chevrolet and a Honda Recon four-wheeler from hole sponsor Great River Honda.

Tournament co-chairman Ricky Warren said he was more than pleased with this year’s turnout.

“It’s been huge. We have 27 teams in this four-man scramble,” Warren said. “Eight Special Olympics athletes participated in the tournament along with the players. They are having fun. The highlight is we sold 300 numbered golf balls, which will be dropped from the Adams County Sheriff’s Department helicopter. The closest to the hole or in the hole will win a Honda Rancher four-wheeler.

“Special Olympics is for special-needs children who have disabilities. All of the proceeds go to the Special Olympics in this area. They go snow skiing in February. They attend the State Bowling Tournament in Clinton in December. Next week we will attend the summer games at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.”

Before that, the torch run will come through downtown Natchez on Thursday, May 15. Warren also thanked the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and the Concordia Parish’s Sheriff’s Office for providing the food.