Rebel golfer plays it safe, leads State Am by 1 shot

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

WEST POINT – Billy Brozovich’s conservative strategy for playing Old Waverly paid off Thursday.
The Ole Miss golfer bagged his driver and grabbed a 3-iron to record a 4-under-par 68 to take a one-stroke lead in the opening round of the MGA State Amateur Championship.
“I played the course different than I’ve ever played it,” said the fifth-year senior. “I hit a lot of 3-irons off the tee. Usually I hit a driver.
“I learned I can make birdie with a 6-iron in my hand as well as an 8-iron.”
Brozovich recorded six birdies, five on the back nine, to help offset a bogey-bogey finish on the front nine.
“I had some bad swings on eight and nine (for bogey),” he said. ” I played smart today and cut out the big numbers.
“I played conservative and took what the course gave me.”
Mississippi State golf coach Clay Homan, former Northeast Mississippi Community College MACJC state champion Blake Hatfield and Meridian’s Nicholas Brown, a Southern Miss player, were one shot back at 69.
Houston’s Alex Rowland recorded the lone 2-under 70.
Defending champion Fletcher Johnson of Tupelo, the youngest player to ever win the State Am, finished the day tied for 12th with a 1-over-par 73.
The MSU signee had four birdies, but was hurt by a double bogey on No. 9. He recorded a birdie on No. 5 with 30-footer down a slope. He just missed making a 40-foot putt for birdie on No. 6.
Homan, a Fulton native and two-time State Am champion (1994, 2005), played what he called an “OK round.” He did sink a 35-foot birdie putt on 14 and followed that up with an eagle on 15.
On 15, he hit a 5-iron on his second shot about 25 feet below the hole. He then sank the putt for a 3 on the par 5.
“I hit a really good putt … right in the middle,” he said. “I made a bunch of pars after that. I didn’t work too hard. That was the key to the round.”
Homan’s quest was not to shoot himself out of contention the first day.
“You want to get yourself in position,” he said. “It’s a long tournament, 72 holes, anything can happen. You don’t want to post a bad score and have to play from behind.
“Anything around par is a good score out here. That was my goal.”
Divots
- MSU golfer Barrett Edens of Okolona recorded a 1-under-par 71 for one of the morning round’s best showings. His round included five birdies.
“The conditions were perfect for me,” he said. “The greens were a little fast, the way I like ‘em, smooth.”
- Tupelo High teammates Wilson Reeder and Austin Rose were in a group of 10 tied for 18th with a 2-over-par 74.
Rose recorded bogeys on his final two holes to up his score.
- Blue Mountain College golfer Adam Hall was pleased with his 4-over 76.
“It’s tough to make birdies out there,” said the former Saltillo High standout. “I think a 75 to 77 is a good, solid round of golf here.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or gene.phelps@journalinc.com.