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Smith, Rogers team has two-shot lead headed into Sunday

NATCHEZ — Thanks to an eagle on the par-5 18th hole, the team of Kevin Smith Jr. and Wesley Rogers shot an opening-round 59 to take a two-shot lead over two teams in the championship flight of the 2010 Wharlest-Jackson Elks Lodge Scramble.

The eagle-3 by the Smith Jr.-Rogers team capped off a solid round in which they had seven straight birdies on the front nine and four birdies on the back nine Saturday at Beau Pré Country Club.

“We played good and made a lot of putts. My partner played real well. Overall we played solid,” Smith Jr. said. “Wesley ‘The Hammer’ Rogers is very long off the tee. He averaged around 300 yards.”

Two teams are hot on their tail after firing rounds of 11-under-par 61. One of those teams was that of Howard and Lee Jones

“The golf course is still in great shape like it was last weekend. We made 11 birdies and seven pars,” Howard Jones said.

“He carried me around. We had a good time,” Lee Jones said.

The other team that is just two shots off the lead is that of Jason Rooks and Christian Krueger. In fact, that duo was paired with Smith Jr. and Rogers in the first round.

“We complemented each other today. We both contributed to the round,” Rooks said. “It was a team effort. We had five birdies on the front and four birdies and an eagle on 18 on the back. Christian hit a good shots from 210 and I just happened to make a hard putt. It broke three feet to the left.”

The team of Bill Lambert and Joel Dupre’ are in contention as well after a round of 10-under-par 62.

“One comment — brother-in-law,” Dupre’ said. Then he added, “Bill and I were very comfortable. When I was out, he was in. When he was out, I was in. Bill showed me the line and it freed up putting. And we made some good putts.”

Yet there was one team that in which both players felt like its score could have been much lower. And that was the team of Ian McAdams of Madison and Jackson Bryant, who are both on the golf team at East Mississippi Community College. McAdams and Bryant finished with a first-round score of 9-under-par 63.

“We started off on the front nine very well. We had five birdies on the front,” McAdams said. “We hit the ball well on the back, but we couldn’t make any putts. We had four birdies on the back. All in all, we hit the ball well. The best thing about today was we didn’t have any bogeys.”

As to why their score wasn’t lower, McAdams said, “We missed birdie putts on 1, 11 and 12, all from inside 10 feet. This is the first time I’ve ever played this course. We could’ve easily shot 12-under. The course is in good shape.”

“If we get the putter rolling, we can go low tomorrow,” Bryant said.

Three teams are atop the first fight at 7-under-par 65 — Kevin Smith Sr. and Woody Allen, Wayne Whitley and Keith West, and David Heard and Craig Bradford. But the team of Whitley and West withdrew from the tournament.

Today’s final round will have a 9 a.m. shotgun start.

And it appeared as if the heat played a big role in the tournament’s turnout for the second weekend in a row. The Beau Pré Club Championship had fewer participants this year than it did a year ago.

The same can be said for the Wharlest-Jackson Elks Lodge Scramble. Last year there were 86 players in this two-man tournament. However, this year there are just 54 players.