By Gene Phelps
PHILADELPHIA – Nick Beale thought his conservative play late in Sunday’s round may have cost him a State Amateur championship.
The cross-handed golfer from Pass Christian held nothing back in a sudden-death playoff against Hattiesburg’s Eddie Brescher and won the 2014 Mississippi Golf Association State Amateur title at Dancing Rabbit.
“I thought I’d go out in a blaze of glory,” said Beale who finished 72 holes of regulation with a 7-under-par 69-68-72-72–281 score. “This feels great. I bet I’m the first cross-handed golfer to win.”
Beale, who’s now 3-0 in playoffs, hit a 168-yard approach shot on the first playoff hole to within three feet, then knocked it down for birdie to beat Brescher, who finished 71-68-72-70–281 in regulation.
“I hit a draw with an eight-iron,” said Beale, the 2008 Gulf Coast Amateur champion. “The yardage was perfect, the pin was perfect.
“Eddie’s tough. He hung in there and played great down the stretch. He made an unbelievable par on 12.”
Brescher hit his drive on 12 out of bounds, which cost him a stroke. He hit his third shot to within six feet, then made the putt to save par.
Beale had a three-shot lead following back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14. That’s when Brescher went to work. He birdied 15 and 17 while Beale bogeyed 18.
“I wasn’t quiting,” said Brescher, an assistant golf coach at Southern Miss. “(Hole 15) was a big turning point for me. Now, I’m two down.
“Nick’s a great player. I knew he wasn’t going to miss that (sudden-death) putt.”
Tupelo Country Club members Noah West, an Ole Miss golfer, and Hayden Buckley, a Missouri golf signee, combined to win the MGA’s Charles Green Trophy, given to members of the same club posting the lowest scores the first two rounds.
West and Buckley tied for seventh with 3-over-par 291 scores.
Mississippi State golf coach Clay Homan and Justin Elliott won the Mike Magee Trophy given to the golfer with the lowest first round. Both shot 5-under-par 67s.
Homan finished fifth overall with a 2-under 286.