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Locals doing well at Harvest Club Open

NATCHEZ — Despite a huge turnout of out-of-area participants, two players from Natchez sit near the top of the leaderboard at the end of the first round of 35th annual Harvest Club Open are from Natchez.

Beran Washington is in first place after firing a 2-under-par 69. However, the two local players that are in contention know a thing or two about Duncan Park’s golf course.

Pete Powell, an 11-time city champion who has also had some runner-up finishes as well, is in second place after a round of 1-under-par 70 on Saturday. And had it not been for one hole in particular, he would have had an even bigger lead.

“I played 16 holes good and two holes bad,” Powell said. “Pretty good from tee to green. I missed one green on the front side and three on the back side.”

Powell was at 5-under-par at one point in his round after making birdie putts on five out of six holes between No. 7 and No. 12 after starting his round with nothing but pars. A bogey on the tough par-3 13th hole dropped him back to 4-under for the day.

What had the makings of a possible round of 67 ended up with a 70 after he triple-bogeyed the par-4 17th hole after a bad tee shot.

“I four-putted a green to give away the round,” Powell said. “I missed a couple of makable birdie putts coming in.”

Duncan Park golf course superintendent Greg Brooking, who was paired with Powell as both started their rounds on No. 2, added, “It was a sad thing to watch.”

But perhaps Brooking, and the other players who will be in the championship flight, shouldn’t be too disappointed. Brooking himself is just one shot back of Powell in third place at even-par 71.

“I had a pretty solid round. I’m always happy when I shoot even or better,” Brooking said. “I had a good time playing with the guys I played with.”

This year’s Harvest Club Open brought 101 players from several states throughout the Southeast. Still, it was not the 130-plus participants tournament director K.G. Watkins was expecting.

“But it’s okay. Some years are better than others. I’m not dissatisfied,” Watkins said. “I may end up cutting it down. Still had a good turnout. Weather is beautiful. We have players from Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Florida.”

And yet the one thing Watkins would like to see more than anything else is a lot more local golfers playing in this two-day event.

“The local turnout we get is substandard or poor. I don’t know why. We only have five or six local players this year,” Watkins said. “I would love to see more local guys, local competition to play against the out-of-town competition.”

The final round today will have an 8 a.m. shotgun start. And unlike last year, when the final round was held at Beau Pré Country Club, it will take place at Duncan Park.

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