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Noel and Hebert take lead in tourney

NATCHEZ — Marc Noel said he and playing partner Cade Hebert were just wanting to shoot a good score during the first round to get into contention at the 2010 Pilgrimage 4-Ball Invitational at Beau Pré Country Club.

Well, the duo from Abbeville, La., did better than even it expected. Thanks to a key eagle on the par-5 8th, their 17th hole of the day, Noel and Hebert are the leading team in the championship flight after a Saturday score of 7-under-par 65.

“We figured if we shoot 4- or 5-under, it would be a good round. It was a matter of getting into contention. We were very pleased with our round,” Noel said.

Noel and Hebert, who started their round on No. 10, made the turn at 3-under-par — which was not bad considering how strong the wind was blowing at times while the afternoon groups were playing.

“The conditions were tough today,” Hebert said. “At times I fell like his caddy. We talk about the wind, the break on the putt. A couple of times we had to change clubs.”

Then they got toward the end of their opening round, which was capped off by their eagle-3 on No. 8. They ended up with five birdies and not a single bogey.

“We burned the edges. We played well all day. The putts finally started dropping,” Noel said. “We both made a couple of crucial par putts that kept our round going.”

“We play well together. We compliment each other. Marc played well today,” Hebert said. “I tried to feed off his energy, but I couldn’t make enough putts.”

Four teams are in second place and just two shots back at 5-under-par 67. One of those teams is Chuck Fields and former multi-time city champion Pete Powell, who recently moved back to Natchez after living in Illinois and working at Johns-Manville.

“We lit up the front and just tried to hang on on the back.” Fields said. “It was tough out there. That wind was tough. We were at 6-under through 10 and I three-putted the last hole (No. 18). It was a lot of fun. Pete just moved back a few months ago. We’ve been friends since way back.”

Another team is the Natchez team of Casey Ham and Jeff Anderson, who started on No. 10.

“My partner played awesome. He’s a putting machine,” Ham said about Anderson. “He made an eagle on 14 from the fairway. That got us jumpstarted. As windy as it was, we left some out there.”

The other two teams who shot 67 on Saturday were Richard Edgin of Natchez and Justin Elliott of Hattiesburg, who started on No. 1, as well as Frank Maxwell and Johnny Futch.

“We didn’t have many mistakes. We had only one bogey and six birdies,” Edgin said. “It was pretty windy.”

“Fast start, slow finish,” Elliott said. “We were 4-under at the turn. We could’ve shot lower. Missed a few putts on 8, 12 and 13.”

Beau Pré golf pro Tom Bryant was a little disappointed in the turnout for this year’s Pilgrimage 4-Ball Invitational. Only 55 teams are participating in the two-man scramble.

“We were expecting 72, 73 teams. We’ve got 15 from south Louisiana. Ellendale Country Club in Houma, La. is having a tournament this weekend. They usually have theirs the weekend after ours,” Bryant said. “That took some teams away from us.”

He did said the despite the lower-than-usual turnout, there a good group of players representing Beau Pré as well as a good contingent from Alexandria, Lafayette, north Louisiana as well as players from Gloster, Ferriday, Hattiesburg, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

“We’re in pretty good shape. It’s going to be a good tournament,” Bryant said.

Three teams are leading the first flight at 1-under-par 71 — Craig Bradford and David Heard; Bill Byrne and Duncan Park course superintendent Greg Brooking; and Travis Hebert and Dustin Harris.

Today’s final round will have morning tee times starting at 8:27 a.m. and afternoon tee times starting at 12:30 p.m.

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