Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
In the blistering heat, 57 amateur golfers took to the greens at Northwood Country Club in Day 1 action of the State Games of Mississippi junior golf tournament.
The tournament partnered with the Mississippi Junior Golf Association to put on the tournament as part of State Games. Renovations to Northwood had pushed it elsewhere, this year it is happy to be back, Emily Sullivan of MJGA said.
At the end of Day 1, no one hit par but a few came awfully close.
Leading Division A, 16-18 boys, Clayton Gray and Camden Backel sit tied at 73, for 2-over. University of Mississippi bound Jacob Ross is one behind the leading duo after shooting a 74 thru 18.
“Hit the ball well, couldn’t putt well today, overall thats decent score for me,” Ross said. “[The greens] were pretty good. You can make putts out there, I just wasn’t really able to do it out there.”
Ross is a four-time 2A Mississippi state champion out of Brookhaven Academy in Jackson and playing in his final State Games tournament at the maximum age of 18.
“I’ve been playing tournaments for about 10 years now, I like [State Games] a lot,” he said. “It’s run real well ... I’m sad to go, but excited to move on.”
Ross might be moving onto a higher competition level with Ole Miss in the fall, but he hasn’t forgotten his younger days.
“I love coming to the range and watching all the little bitty kids, I do,” Ross said. “I remember being itty-bitty and just swinging the stick around back when there was no pressure, just for fun.”
A four-way tie will start Day 2 in Division B, 14-15 boys, at 8-over. Cecil Wegener thought he had a rough day, but being on the leaderboard would prove otherwise.
“I didn’t play very well,” Wegener said. “I’m normally pretty good at my short game, but not today.
After some putting drills, Wegener hopes to return to the greens on Day 2 with improvements after getting a better feel for the greens.
Parker Daily and Edward Lee have an eight stroke lead in Division C, 12-13 boys, after finishing the day at 74 (plus-3).
“I’m really excited. I’ve practiced a lot which the results show,” Daily said. “I don’t hit very far but I chip a lot.”
Daily, of Jackson, finished the first round with birdies on holes No. 16 and 17.
“I was just making everything around the greens,” he said.
Participants 11-and-under are playing the two-day tournament over 18 holes. After nine, Hayes Hinson was leading Division D, 10-11 boys, by 10 strokes with a 37, for 1-over.
Hinson, of Meridian, got off to a rough start bogeying and double bogeying the first and second holes respectively, but recovered with birdies on five and six.
Carlee Nanney leads the Girls Division, encompassing ages 13 to 18, with an 85.
Tristian Cooley of Hattiesburg picked up the sport last year and has already fallen in love. After her first run through the course not going as planed at plus-35, she hopes to shoot closer to 90 on Day 2.
“I hit higher clubs so that it would sit on the green,” Cooley said of Day 1. “If I could shoot better, I’d like [the tournament] more, but you know you have bad days in golf.”
Out first on the day was Division E, 9 and under, mostly with their father’s as caddies. Owen Abney has a one-stroke lead at 44 over Rawson Polizzi’s 45 thru nine. They’ll be out first again, teeing off at 8:30 a.m.