By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Scotty Lawrence had one word to describe his first round Monday in the North Mississippi Coca-Cola Junior Golf Tour Championship: “Terrible.”
But terrible – a 5-over-par 76 – was good enough to give the Vernon, Ala., resident the lead in the age 16-18 division headed into today’s final round at the Mississippi State University Golf Club.
“The mental mistakes hurt me,” Lawrence said. “I hit most of the fairways. I had a couple of bad chips, but I putted well.”
Lawrence rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 10 and followed with a par-saving 25-foot putt on No. 14.
A senior at Vernon High School this fall, Lawrence entered the tournament tied with Heath Davis for the Tour’s points lead in the 16-18 division. Davis shot an 86 Monday and is 10 shots behind the leader. Jay Swinner is second with a 79.
Leaders in the age 14-15 (Brandon Walker) and 12-13 divisions (Cameron Clarke) are from Calhoun County.
Walker, who will be a freshman at Calhoun City, recorded a 7-over 78 to lead the 14-15 division by three strokes headed into today’s final 18 holes.
“This was my first time to see the course,” Walker said. “I feel like I can shot even par (71) after seeing it today.”
Walker did not have a win on Tour this summer, but he did have a second-place finish at Pontotoc last week. He also had two third-place finishes.
The key for going low today, Walker says, is to remain in the fairway. “The rough was tough; it’s high,” he said.
Clarke, who will be an eighth grader in the Bruce schools, recorded a 6-over 77 to lead the 12-13 division.
He overcame a triple bogey with birdies on 2, 7 and 16. The putt on No. 2 was a 50-footer.
“My putting worked on the long ones, but not the short ones,” he said.