Fletcher Johnson knew he was going to have to make some big shots and putts Wednesday to catch Chad Ramey.
So, the Tupelo golfer felt really good about his putt for birdie on the par-5 first hole at the Tupelo Country Club.
That was until Fulton’s Ramey eagled the same hole with a chip-in.
“I birdie the first hole and then lose a shot,” Johnson said, then smiled. “That made him a little harder to catch.”
Ramey, who fired a 6-under-par 66 Tuesday to take the opening-round lead in the 23rd annual Pros of Tomorrow tournament, recorded a 3-under 69 Wednesday for a two-day total of 9-under 135 to beat his nearest competitor, Johnson, by eight strokes in the age 16-18 division.
Madison’s Reid Holly, who started the day three shots behind Ramey, finished with a two-day total of 1-over 145, while Meridian’s Easton Key, who was five shots behind to start the day, tied him with a 145.
Ramey, who will be a senior at Itawamba AHS this season, rolled in back-to-back birdie putts from the 10-foot range on holes 14 and 15 to drop to 11-under. However, he three-putted on his final two holes to go back to 9-under.
“For the most part I putted well today,” the modest Ramey said. “I didn’t hit the ball the best, but I didn’t get in any trouble.”
On his opening eagle, Ramey’s second shot was a four-iron to the front of the green. From there he chipped in to fall to 8-under.
“My strategy was just to hit fairways and greens,” he said.
Tupelo’s Austin Rose trailed by seven shots after the first round, but rallied to win the 12-13 division by one shot over first-round leader Tucker Jenkins of Guntown.
Rose finished with a 17-over 161 to Jenkins’ 162.
“I played OK,” said Rose, “I made a couple of mistakes … misread a couple of putts and hit a couple too far.”
Rose, the son of TCC professional Jim Rose, said being familiar with the course’s fast greens was a benefit.
“It helped a little bit,” he said. “I’m used to these greens.”
Defending champs win
Esther Huffman of Olive Branch defended her girls 13-18 title with an even-par 150 for two days.
In the boys 11-under division, Andy Ogletree of Little Rock, Miss., repeated as champion. He recorded a 4-over 76 for 18 holes.
Olivia Ross of Brookhaven defeated Fulton’s Carlee Nanney by one stroke to claim the girls 11-under crown.
In the boys 14-15 division, Columbus’ Cade Lott won a playoff against Olive Branch’s Connor Davis with a birdie on the first hole. Both players shot 3-over 147 in regulation.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal