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Ingram wins Puckett Memorial

NATCHEZ — After shooting a front-nine, 4-over-par 39 that included just one birdie, the odds that 17-year-old Chris Ingram of Vicksburg would have a chance of contending for the Norman Puckett Memorial Junior Golf Tournament were not that good.

But a birdie on the par-5 10th hole got his round going in the right direction. Three birdies over the following four holes and a pair of outstanding par saves on the difficult 17th and 18th holes allowed Ingram to fire a back-nine 32 as he finished with a score of even-par 71.

And that was good enough for Ingram to become the first overall champion of this tournament at Duncan Park as he held off 17-year-old Austin McFarland of Meadville by two shots and boys 14-15 division winner Parker Rutherford, 15 and also from Vicksburg, by one shot.

On the front nine, Ingram had his issues on several holes. He bogeyed No. 1, the easiest hole on the front side. Then he double-bogeyed No. 4 to drop to 3-over-par. A birdie on the par-5 5th hole got him back to 2-over, but bogeys on 8 and 9 put in at 4-over-par for the tournament.

“I didn’t hit fairways. I got terrible breaks,” Ingram said. “Coming into hole 10, it’s an easy par-5. I needed to make a birdie.”

And birdie No. 10 he did. He then birdied No. 11 and No. 12 to get back to 1-over-par for the day. After a good par on the difficult par-3 13th hole, Ingram birdied the par-5 15th hole to get to even par on his round. He then parred the final three holes and had to wait a while to see how some of the others would do.

“You’ve got to take advantage of those holes. That was a good stretch of holes,” Ingram said. “I hit great drives on (17 and 18). I hit a wedge in there and was able to make par.”

He had to wait a while because of a weather delay before the final groups were able to finish their rounds due to lightning from what a nearby strong thunderstorm. Amazing, only light rain fell at the golf course during the delay. But the lightning was so intense that play had to be halted for about an hour.

McFarland finished in second place with a round of 2-over-par 73. He didn’t play as well as he did two weeks ago at the Norman Puckett City Junior Golf Tournament when he shot 3-under-par on the front nine.

“The first side was pretty good. The weather started getting bad on me,” McFarland said. “Could have been better. I guess I was pleased.”

McFarland said if there was one hole he would have liked to have back, it would have been No. 4. “I double-bogeyed No. 4. I hit my drive in the woods and then in the pond,” he said.

Logan Parish of Prentiss finished third with a score of 4-over-par 75.

Rutherford did magnificent on the front nine as he went out in 1-under-par 34. However, he struggled on the back nine and came in in 2-over-par 38.

“I played pretty solid. My driver got me in trouble,” Rutherford said. “I expected to play well on the front nine. It’s so short. A lot of holes you can hit a 3-iron and a wedge. The back nine, I hit my driver too many times. I wasn’t putting myself in position to make any birdies.”

14-year-old Nicholas Cobb of Madison was one of three players who shot a 74 and ended up in second place in the boys 14-15 division.

“I played pretty well, but I left a couple of shots out there. But I’m very pleased,” Cobb said. “I’m not going to let a couple of shots bother me. I thought the front side, I didn’t like the layout. I really enjoyed the back because it opened up. I could hit my driver and not worry about hitting it into the trees.”

Cobb had two double bogeys en route to a front-nine 39. He made up for that with a back-nine score of 35, which included three birdies and a three-putt bogey on 18.

“I bogeyed 10 and I was thinking 80,” Cobb said. “On 13, I hit a hybrid. It landed 20 feet from the hole and it rolled up to about 12 feet. I two-putted for par.”

Spencer Touchstone of Meadville finished third with a 74 and Nick Mekus of Vicksburg also shot a 74 and ended up in fourth place.

The girls 13-18 division had just one participant – 16-year-old Hope Biggs of Clinton. All she had to do was play all 18 holes. She did that, but the lefty wasn’t too pleased with how she played as she shot an 86.

“It didn’t go too well, but I had a lot of fun,” Biggs said. “Front nine was okay and the back nine was worse. I was hoping to shoot in the 70s. The wind was a big factor out there.”

First and second place in the boys 12-13 division went to a sudden-death playoff between 12-year-old Wilson Furr of Jackson and 13-year-old John Polk Dumas of Brandon after both players shot rounds of 78. The playoff started on No. 1 and ended on No. 1 as Furr chipped from out of the green and drilled a 20-foot putt for birdie while Dumas missed a five-footer for birdie.

The girls 9-and-under division was won by 8-year-old Sara Hederman of Jackson. She was the only participant in this division and had a nine-hole score of 53.

“I played good. Lots of fun. My dad Doug was my caddie,” Hederman said. She added that this was her best round ever.

Ethan Mangum of Jackson won the boys 11-12 division with a nine-hole score of 39 as he defeated Holt Hederman of Jackson and Cameron Mobley of Brandon by one shot.

Trevor Walters of Canton won the boys 9-and-under division with a nine-hole score of 45, six shots better than second-place Jacob Anderson of Prentiss.

There were close to 40 players in this year’s tournament and Duncan Park golf course superintendent Greg Brooking said he was very pleased with the turnout.

“There ended up being some other players that signed through the Mississippi Golf Association. MGA points are involved. They have a cup for the juniors,” Brooking said. “We have three volunteers from Natchez that came out to help us – Jeff Morris, Mike Kern and Arlis Rogers. They spotted for the kids and brought them drinks, which Coca-Cola donated. Uptown Grocery provided the food and desserts for the children.

Will Black of the MGA is over the junior tournaments. The support from the community is tremendous.”

The Mississippi Golf Association assisted with Duncan Park with the tournament. Brooking added that this was the hardest he had ever set this course up for kids.

“On the junior circuit, they normally play 6,500 to 6,900-yard courses. This is probably the shortest course they’ve played, but the narrowest as well,” Black said.

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