Brooking shoots his way to first-round lead

Published 12:02 am Sunday, October 23, 2011

NATCHEZ — Greg Brooking and K.G. Watkins appeared to be on their way to an 18-hole battle for the lead in the senior (50-59) division in the first round of the 2011 Natchez Senior Men’s and Ladies Championship at Duncan Park.

But on a surprisingly cloudy and cooler-than-expected Saturday at the Duncan Park Golf Course, one bad shot by Watkins on No. 10 put an end to that. After a stellar front nine, Watkins struggled on the back nine and ended up shooting a 1-over-par 72.

Brooking, on the other hand, continued his solid play on the final nine holes and shot a bogey-free round of 7-under-par 64 to take an eight-shot lead over both Watkins and Bill Byrne.

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“I played as good as I could. I had a lot of one-putts,” Brooking said. “I one-putted most of the greens. I had a good group of players to play with. They all shot good scores.”

Considering the weather conditions — cool, cloudy and a couple of times it sprinkled — Brooking said he didn’t expect to play so well or shoot such a low score.

“You never think you’ll shoot a score that good,” said Brooking, who had seven birdies and 11 pars.

As for Watkins, his chance of staying in contention slipped away on the par-5 10th hole.

“I went out in good shape, and shot 4-under 31 (on the front nine). I had a little bad luck on 10. I just had a real bad lie. I hit a tree on the edge of the lake. Then I hit one limb. I should’ve went to the right instead of going for the green. I just lost my focus after that.”

Luckily for Watkins, he ended up with just a bogey-6 on that hole instead of a much higher number. However, he did three-putt on the par-4 12th hole.

“I can take four strokes off my score easily,” Watkins said. “Tomorrow’s another day and anything can happen.”

One of the main stories in this year’s tournament is the return of Mary Kate Partridge. The last time she played in a tournament was back in 2006 — when she was still Mary Kate Byrne and a member of the Cathedral golf team.

As to how the course played, Partridge said, “It’s in awesome shape. It is fantastic. The greens are good, the fairways are good. I just enjoyed today. We remembered Ms. (Frances) Trosclair today. It was just good to be here. I had a good time, and enjoyed the cool weather.”

Partridge shot an 88 on Saturday, six shots behind ladies’ division leader Peggy Bernard. Fran Farmer is three shots out of the lead after shooting an 85. Judy Powell and Beverly Knapp are tied for third after each of them had rounds of 86.

Pete Powell shot a 3-under-par 68 to take the lead in the super senior men’s (60-69) division. Just like Brooking, he made seven birdies. However, he also had two bogeys and one double bogey.

“I played alright overall,” Powell said. “I three-putted a couple of times, and hit a couple of shots that I thought I hit just right and they weren’t. That just made me aggravated.”

Frank Dominick is six shots back of Powell after shooting a 74 while Kenny Boyd and Emmet Book are tied for third at 78.

Boyd played well on the front nine and shot 2-over-par 35. However, the back nine is where things went wrong for him.

“I was comfortable (on the front nine),” Boyd said. “I hit the ball real good. I putted good. But when I double-bogeyed No. 10, it kinda bothered me. I missed four birdies and two short pars on the back. The way they got the pins placed, it look like it’s flat, but it’s not. The course is in great shape. Cool weather. Great for golf. I’m satisfied with the 78, but I felt like I could’ve shot 75.”

Cornelius Lewis shot a 76 to take a one-shot lead over Clayton Foster and a two-shot lead over Phillip Trosclair in the grand masters men’s (70-plus) division.

“It was a good round. I missed a few putts,” Lewis said. “I had five birdies and no double bogeys, so that made it even better. The course is in real good shape.”

Tee times for today’s final round start at noon, with the exception of one group that will go off at 8 a.m.