Scores close in 2008 Gov’s Cup

Published 12:09 am Saturday, May 17, 2008

NATCHEZ — Despite trailing by two points at the end of Friday morning’s four-ball matches, Team Mississippi captain Gerald Chatham Sr. must have felt pretty confident that his team would rally in the afternoon.

“We’re on a comeback. We’re all square with three groups out,” Chatham said.

Two of the last three matches in the alternate shot competition went to Team Mississippi as it took a one-point lead over defending champion Team Arkansas at the 2008 Governor’s Cup at Beau Pré Country Club.

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Ron Mangold and Nathan Circle gave Team Arkansas a one-point lead after it defeated Stan Hall and Donny Holman of Team Mississippi 2-up. However, that lead would be short-lived.

“I played OK today. I had five birdies this morning,” Mangold said. “This afternoon on alternate shot, we were 4-up after 12 and we fell apart. But we ended up winning on the last hole.”

Todd Metz and Michael Dowst defeated Jeff Benton and Neal Westbrook 2&1. That would give each team seven and one-half points. And had been the case with most of the matches, the last match of the day would fittingly go down to the par-5 18th hole.

Team Mississippi’s David Sellers and Alan Ellis won that hole over Team Arkansas’s Robert Neighbors and Kirk Brown to give it eight and one-half points and the lead going into today’s singles matches.

“Very important. It’s huge,” Chatham said about the importance of winning that hole.

Suffice it to say, the outcome of this year’s Governor’s Cup will not be as one-sided as it was last year when Team Arkansas won with 65 ½ points to just 30 ½ points for Team Mississippi.

But the scoring is a lot different this year than it was last year as well. As Chatham pointed out, last year’s scoring was done in a unique way.

“Last year it was three points – one point for the front nine, one for the back nine and one for all 18 holes,” Chatham said. “Arkansas’s got a great team and they’re fine gentlemen.”

Team Arkansas captain Jay Fox noted that of the 16 matches played on Friday, 10 of them went down to the final hole.

“Competition’s very close. It’s hard to win on the road. Look at the NBA playoffs,” Fox said. “We knew coming in it would be tough. This is a great competition for our guys. We played good today, but Mississippi played a little better. We brought our 16 best players and Mississippi brought its 16 best players.”

Current Mid-Amateur champion and soon-to-be defending State Amateur champion Steven Wilson of Team Mississippi – he’s from Ocean Springs – had a hole-in-one on Friday morning’s four-ball matches on the par-3 7th hole from 189 yards with a 6-iron. Witnesses to Wilson’s ace were playing partner Todd Metz of Hattiesburg and Team Arkansas members Chris Jenkins of Little Rock and Wes McNulty of Pine Bluff.

“Other than that, we had one birdie each,” Wilson said.

That would be the highlight of the match for Wilson and Metz as they were defeated by Jenkins and McNulty, 3&2.

Wilson would have better luck in the alternate shot matches as he and Duke Simmons defeated Jenkins and Stan Lee 1-up.

“Duke and I played better,” Wilson said. “We hit the ball better. (The golf course) is a beautiful layout. It’s a lot of fun to play.”

Tee times for the singles matches start at 8 a.m. And as both Chatham and Fox noted the outcome may come down to the final putt.