By By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Olly Thomson wasn’t sure if he would be able to hold off the birdie-making “flat bellies” in Sunday’s final round of the Mississippi PGA Trustmark Invitational.
The 39-year-old Canton Country Club golf pro was referring to the charge by a couple of young, seasoned amateurs – Tupelo’s Fletcher Johnson and Greenville’s Billy Brozovich.
Thomson remained steady and eventually defeated Johnson, a Mississippi State signee, with an 8-foot birdie putt on the first sudden-death playoff hole at the Country Club of Jackson.
Johnson (69-69–138) birdied the final hole of regulation to tie Thomson (67-71–138) at 6-under-par to force the playoff.
Thomson started the day with a two-shot lead from Friday’s round.
Saturday’s round was cancelled by rain.
“These young guys were throwing a bunch of birdies,” said Thomson, a native of Leeds, England, who moved to Mississippi from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “I hung in there all day and just kept making solid shots.
“To birdie the last hole was special.”
Johnson, the 2010 State Amateur winner on this course, birdied two holes on the front nine, then closed with three birdies on his final five holes .
Brozovich, a senior on the Ole Miss golf team, recorded four birdies on the back nine to finish 69-71 – 140. He actually led the tournament Saturday with an 8-under 136, but saw his morning round, one that featured seven birdies, cancelled.
Brozovich finished tied for fourth with Old Waverly pro V.J. Trolio, who shot 72-68 – 140. Brad Riles, an amateur from Madison, was third 70-69 – 139.
“Fletcher played really well at the end,” Thomson said. “Billy came after us on the back nine. It’s nice to beat those flat bellies.”