Hamm hangs on to win Harvest Club Open

Published 1:09 am Monday, April 6, 2009

NATCHEZ — Casey Hamm of Natchez nearly let a five-shot lead slip away, but he was able to recover while defending champion Marlo Lamela bogeyed the final two holes and Hamm wound up winning the championship flight of the Harvest Club Open by three shots.

Despite shooting a final-round 4-over-par 76 at Beau Pré Country Club, Hamm finished with a two-day score of 148. Lamela shot a 7-over-par 79 to finish in second place with a two-day score of 151.

“I played solid until I got to 14,” Hamm said. “I enjoyed the tournament. There were lots of long holes. I missed a bunch of putts early, but then I got going with a birdie on 7 and then I had a birdie on 8. Also had a birdie on 13.”

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Hamm’s third birdie of they day put him at even par on his round going into the par-4 14th hole and he appeared well on his way to wide margin of victory over Lamela, who is from Los Angeles, but now resides in Vicksburg. But the momentum started to slip away on Hamm’s tee shot.

“I hit a bad tee shot. Then a worse second shot. Then I three-putted,” Hamm said. He ended up with a triple-bogey 7 on the hole, and just like that his lead over Lamela was down to two shots. Hamm then three-putted for bogey while Lamela made a key putt for par and the lead was down to one shot.

Then the momentum started shifting back to Hamm thanks to big par on the par-3 16th hole. Hamm then parred the 17th and 18th holes, but Lamela bogeyed both holes. That included a surprising three-putt bogey on the final hole.

“I hit the ball OK. Just didn’t make enough putts,” Lamela said. “It’s hard to get up and down on these greens. Overall, I had fun playing with Casey. He’s a really good golfer.”

Three players finished in a tie for third place in the championship flight with two-day scores of 152. Maurice Hughes and Willie Richardson each had final-round scores of 77 while Greg Brooking of McComb shot a final-round 75.

First place in the first flight ended up going to a scorecard playoff after Lewis Stansfield and Larry Crawford ended up with two-day totals of 162. Stansfield had a final-round 81 while Crawford shot an 80.

John Broussard had the best round of the day at Beau Pré on Sunday with an even-par 72 to finish at 148 and a tie at the top of the seniors flight with first-round co-leader Leroy Smith of Mobile, Ala., who had back-to-back rounds of 74. A scorecard playoff also determined the winner in that flight.

A.J. Reed trailed Cornelius Lewis by three shots entering the final round in the grand masters flight, but he made up for that deficit with a final-round 77 and won that flight with a two-day total of 163. Lewis, on the other hand, struggled in his round and fired an 86 to finish second at 169.

There were 136 people participating in this year’s Harvest Club Open and 10 states were represented – Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa and Illinois.

Tournament director K.G. Watkins said the pace of play at both Beau Pré and Duncan Park was good both days.

“Utilizing two golf courses doesn’t allow you to overpack. We’ve knocked out an hour, hour and a half off the time,” Watkins said.

Watkins also said that he was surprised at how high the scores from Saturday’s first round at Duncan Park turned out.

“That was a little surprising. I don’t know what that was. Some real good golfers that didn’t shoot good numbers,” he said. As for the rain that could have put a damper on Sunday’s final round, he said, “It was a close call. It was cloudy, foggy and humid. It lasted about an hour.”