Watkins in lead at senior championship

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 24, 2010

NATCHEZ — K.G. Watkins overcame an early double bogey with four birdies over a six-hole stretch on the back nine lead to shoot a 2-under-par 69 to take the lead at the 2010 Senior Men’s and Ladies City Golf Championships Saturday at Duncan Park.

Watkins said his opening round could have been a lot worse had it not been for his putter. Especially considering that he tried to force the issue after the double bogey on the par-4 4th hole in which he hit his tee shot into the trees.

After parring the next five holes to finish at 1-over-par 36 on the front nine, Watkins settled down and went on a much-needed birdie binge, which started on the par-5 10th hole. He would add birdies on 11, 14 and 15 to get 3-under-par for the day.

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“My putter was working well. I was really disappointed that I carried the double bogey on No. 4. I was happy that I shot 2-under today even with the double bogey,” Watkins said.

However, a bogey on No. 16 dropped him back to 2-under-par. And that would be his score for the day after back-to-back pars on 17 and 18.

“I played both sides really well. I got off to a good start with a birdie on No. 1. I tried to force to get a few (birdies) after the double bogey. My putter saved me today,” Watkins said. “I felt good physically and mentally. I felt good today. I didn’t strike the ball on the front nine as I did the back nine.”

One shot back of Watkins in the Seniors (50-59) division at 1-under-par 70 is Larry Wagoner. Wagoner shot 1-under-par 34 on the front nine thanks to birdies on No. 2 and the par-5 5th hole. He also had a bogey on No. 3. On the back nine, Wagoner birdied No. 12, bogeyed 16 and 17, and birdied No. 18 to shoot even-par 36.

Duncan Park Golf Course Superintendent Greg Brooking is five shots out of the lead at 3-over-par 74.

“I played fair. I hope to play better tomorrow,” Brooking said.

As for the turnout — five ladies and 39 seniors — Brooking noted that it was the largest since the year 2000.

“We had a great turnout. We haven’t had a turnout like this in a decade,” Brooking said. “We have more ladies this year. I hope we have more ladies next year.”

Judy Powell leads the Ladies Open division after a first-round score of 79. Fran Farmer is in second place with an 86.

“I started out kind of bad. I double-bogeyed the first hole. I settled down after that. Went for a few holes and had another double bogey on No. 7,” Judy Powell said. “I shot 41 on the front and 38 on the back. I played better on the back. I had a birdie on No. 10. I played with Fran Farmer and Mia Taylor. I enjoyed playing with them.”

In the Super Seniors (60-69) division, Pete Powell and George Hude were the only players to shoot in the 70s.

Powell shot a 1-under-par 70 and has a six-shot lead over Hude.

“I just managed a bunch of mishits. I just played defensive all day,” said Pete Powell, who had four birdies and three bogeys. “The biggest problem with the wind was it kept changing directions. One hole it would be blowing in your face and you got to the next hole it would be blowing in your face.”

Hude had quite an adventurous round to say the least. After starting with a birdie on No. 1, he triple-bogeyed the par-4 2nd hole to drop to 2-over-par. He could have compounded his round after a bogey on No. 3 to fall to 3-over-par, but pars on the next six holes saved him as shot a 38.

A double bogey-6 on the par-4 11th hole dropped him further back to five-over-par, but he responded with an unexpected birdie on the par-3 13th hole. After pars on 14, 15, 16 and 17, Hude finished his round with a bogey on No. 18 for a round over 5-over-par 76.

Joe Brumfield leads the Legends (70-95) division with a round of 77. Clayton Foster and Cornelius Lewis are just two shots back at 79 while Wayne Miley and Lenord Singleton are three shots behind Brumfield at 80.

Today’s final round tee times start at 11:10 a.m.