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Making History: Three Natchez golfers set to participate in Governor’s Cup

From left, Greg Brooking, Bill Byrne and Pete Powell are among the 20 Mississippi golfers selected to attend this year’s Governor’s Cup in Hot Springs, Ark. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

From left, Greg Brooking, Bill Byrne and Pete Powell are among the 20 Mississippi golfers selected to attend this year’s Governor’s Cup in Hot Springs, Ark. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — As Greg Brooking welcomed Pete Powell and Bill Byrne at Duncan Park Monday, Brooking greeted his long-time friends with, “Can y’all believe we all get to play?”

On May 8, the 2015 Governor’s Cup in Hot Springs, Ark., will host 10 regular golfers, eight seniors and two super seniors from Mississippi that will play against Arkansas golfers for the cup. Three of the total 20 Mississippi golfers participating will be from Natchez.

“That’s the most ever from Natchez,” said Brooking who will play in his fifth Governor’s Cup. “We make up a good percentage of the team so, of course, we want to win.”

After earning points and qualifying to play through various state tournaments in 2014, Powell earned a spot as a senior golfer and was next in line to qualify as a super senior. Because the super senior ahead of him required shoulder surgery, Powell filled in as a super senior, leaving a vacancy for Byrne to join Brooking as a senior in the event.

It won’t be the first time Byrne has played with Brooking. Two years ago, Brooking went to Little Rock to play with Byrne on Team Mississippi, and last year, Powell played in his first Governor’s Cup with Brooking in Mississippi. This year, with three players representing Natchez, the pressure is on for Powell, Byrne and Brooking to represent their home state and hometown. With pride on the line, Byrne said it helps having close friends enjoy the ride alongside him.

“Greg and I grew up together playing on the Cathedral golf team, and Pete started when he was 21 years old and played with us,” said Byrne, who will be participating in his fourth Governor’s Cup. “So we’ve all been playing together for maybe 45 years.”

The Governor’s Cup will be played in a Ryder Cup-type format, featuring match play competitions between players selected from Arkansas and Mississippi. On May 8, a four-ball match will take place, and both Byrne and Brooking said they hope they have better luck drawing their opponents in 2015.

“Well, the last time we played, we had to go against Stan and Louis Lee, who played at LSU and have won national championships,” Byrne said. “Let’s just say that was our worst match.”

The Lee brothers will be representing Arkansas again in the Governor’s Cup in May.

Stiff competition or not, Brooking, Powell and Byrne are traveling to Hot Springs with intentions of winning, as their history in the cup has created a sense of pride in playing for Mississippi.

“It’s a pride deal,” Powell said. “It’s all about beating Arkansas.”