Natchez golfers sweep Mississippi Golf Association Four-Ball State Championship

Published 6:11 pm Sunday, April 24, 2022

NATCHEZ — Natchez Golfers swept the Mississippi Golf Association Four-Ball State Championship at Beau Pré Sunday. Greg Brooking, Bill Byrne, Tee Cotten, Casey Ham, Bobby Meason, and Kevin Smith represented the home club to win the Super Senior Championship, Senior Championship, and Grand Masters Championship. 

Bubba Kaiser and his partner Paul Guido had a good showing in the final round and won their Super Senior Flight. Tom Bryant and Jeffery Anderson put a lot of pressure on Cotton and Ham on the final hole with a final-round charge. 

Meason and Smith held a two stroke lead and had the least pressure coming into the final round. Smith said they just maintained their lead throughout the day to finish six under for the tournament in the Grand Masters Championship. 

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“We were in a partnership today. We both played good, and we brother-in-lawed, meaning if I hit a bad shot, he hit a good shot, pretty good,” Smith said. “We did that all day. We played steady, so that was key to our success. It feels good to win anything in competition, but especially the state competition, it feels better. We appreciate the State Golf Association for competing here in Natchez. I think we had about 80 people here.” 

There was a lot of pressure on the other two pairings when they walked up to the final hole. After bogeying 17, Brooking and Byrne needed a birdie to secure a win. 

“I’m tickled to win. I was very nervous on No. 18. I have one other state championship I have won. Any time you get a chance to win a state championship it is a big thing,” Brooking said. “We had to have the birdie. We knew the second place group would have to shoot 66 to tie or 65 to win. It was going to be hard with the win and pin placements. We ended up winning by a stroke.” 

The pair had a good front nine to start the day with birdies on No. 5 and No.8. They shot par or better until hole No. 14, where they bogeyed. 

Byrne birdied No. 15 to get them on track, and Brooking made a birdie on No. 16. Their win was the first time they had won a four-ball state championship as they finished 13 under par. 

“Greg chipped in on 16, which saved us. I birdied 15, and he made a good birdie on 18. He is a good partner,” Byrne said. “We play a lot of four-ball together.” 

Cotten and Ham found themselves a stroke behind the leaders in the senior championship. David Allen and his partner Robert Sanford, who won The Natchez Open senior championship last year, double bogeyed the third hole and couldn’t recover. They dropped from first to seventh by shooting one over on the final day. 

Their pairing Cotten and Ham had a much better start to the day. They birdied No. 2, No. 5 and No. 8 on the front nine. After Ham and Cotten had trouble on No.9 and shot a bogey, they recovered with birdies on No. 11 and No. 13. Cotten quipped the whole round was a series of turning points. 

“We didn’t birdie two holes in a row the entire weekend. It was a struggle. It was comforting to know my man here could light it up,” Cotten said. “All I had to do was make par. I rode him like seabiscuit or a rented mule. It was a fun weekend. We love our golf course, even when it gets the best of us.” 

His playing partner Ham won his second senior championship with a 13 under par round. He won his first individual title this year. At 50, Ham looks closer to 35 the MGA official said when presenting the team his trophy. 

On Hole No. 15, Ham had to take a stroke penalty for an infraction when he went to mark his ball. One of two clubs slipped out of his grasp and struck the ball, which led to him taking a penalty. Cotten bailed them out with a par. 

A bogey on 16 and a par on 17 brought all the pressure to the last hole. Cotten struck his second shot about 20 feet from the hole.

“We had to birdie 18 to win. I had looked at the leaderboard after 17. He hit a chip that hit the pin. I felt pretty comfortable we would win, I just had to put it close.” 

He sank his fourth putt to win it and complete the sweep at Beau Pré. Kaiser, Anderson, Bryant, Smith and Meason watched the two walk off the No. 18 green as senior champions. 

After the round, Ham wanted to thank some people for the weekend. 

“We thank everyone who voluntered. We thank the MGA and the Beau Pré Staff who made this all happen,” he said.