Farmer leads tourney

Published 12:01 am Sunday, August 7, 2011

Eric Shelton | The Natchez Democrat — Garret Jones hits a shot from the fairway during the Bill McKinney Natchez City Golf Championship tournament Saturday afternoon at Duncan Park.

NATCHEZ — In a strong field of approximately 100 golfers, 23-year-old Jordan Farmer separated himself from the pack to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Bill McKinney Natchez City Championship Saturday.

Farmer shot a 5-under-par 66 and leads Trampus Butler and Duncan Park golf superintendent Greg Brooking by two shots going into today’s final round.

“I got off to a slow start, but I got hot on (holes) 10 through 15 and made four birdies,” Farmer said.

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Farmer would have finished the day one shot better but had a tough bogey on the final hole, he said.

“I hit the ball really solid and putted real well,” he said. “I made my four to five foot putts that are really key. I’m happy, I just wish I could get that one shot (on 18) back.”

Farmer said one key to his round was his success on the holes 13 and 15, both par 3s.

“Those are some of the hardest par 3s in Mississippi,” he said. “If you get through those with pars you are gaining on the field, and I found a way to birdie 15.”

Brooking found a way to shoot 68 Saturday, along with dealing with the responsibilities of hosting the tournament.

“I’m happy with the position I’m in, with trying to run the tournament and playing,” Brooking said.

Brooking said he’s proud of his position, especially with the talented field playing in the tournament this year.

“There are so many good players,” he said. “It’s the strongest field we’ve ever seen in the city championship. We have nearly every good player in town.”

Brooking said he hopes to find a way to win tomorrow to bring him one step closer to topping Pete Powell for most city championships, but he does not have a great amount of confidence that he will be able to do so.

“I don’t give myself much of a chance, because I have to worry about (putting on the tournament),” Brooking said. “(If I win) it will be one more step closer to catching Pete Powell’s 11 city championships. It would make number six for me.”

Powell shot a 74 Saturday.

Farmer looks to make it difficult for Brooking to win title number six. Farmer will be shooting for his second city championship, and he hopes to get started early today.

“I need to create momentum early, every sport is about momentum in my opinion,” he said. “I definitely can’t back off. I have to stay aggressive, and birdie the first couple of holes and make them come get me.”

Although the young Farmer took the lead on day one, there are some tournament veterans that also had solid days.

Lafayette, La. native Charlie Fife made the trip to Natchez to play in the tournament and shot a 75, he said. Fife used to live in Natchez and Bill McKinney, the tournament’s namesake, was a great influence on him.

“I played in this tournament for the first time in 1957, and I haven’t missed a whole lot since,” Fife said. “Bill McKinney was the pro here, and he was very, very influential on me and a lot of people.”

Fife said he keeps coming back each year to support McKinney’s tournament and to see old friends.

“As long as his name (McKinney’s) name is on it, I’m going to keep coming,” he said.

Casey Ham, Oreille Lamartineire, Jay Lessley and Neal Partrige are all in contention after shooting opening-round 69s. Richard Edgin shot 70.

Play will resume at 8 a.m. today with the third flight. The Championship flight tees off at 10:48 a.m.