By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
SAUCIER – Northeast Mississippi golfers heard Grand Bear’s faint growl Thursday in the first round of the MGA State Amateur Championship.
Canton’s Eddie Brescher shot a 4-under-par 68 to take the lead headed into today’s second round of the 72-hole stroke-play tournament on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.
Okolona and Mississippi State golfer Barrett Edens led this area’s contingent with a 1-over-par 73.
Edens struggled at the start – 4-over after 9 – but recovered to post a 1-over 73.
“I think I’m in a good spot for (today),” he said. “I’m proud of my round after starting 4-over. I could have shot an 80.”
champ has problems
Defending champion Clay Homan, a Fulton native and Mississippi State’s golf coach, found the greens somewhat difficult to manage at times during his 4-over 76 round.
“The greens are a little tough and the ball’s not rolling extremely true,” said the 2011 and ‘12 winner. “It’s hard to make some putts.”
Homan, a four-time State Am champion, saw birdie attempts on No. 16 and 18 lip out. He also missed birdie tries on holes 10, 13 and 15.
Homan likes his chances of recovering and making a run at his third straight title. “I’m swinging well enough to come back with some good rounds and get myself back in it,” he said.
Tupelo’s Fletcher Johnson, a Mississippi State golfer, found the pines on Grand Bear’s fairways actually forgiving at times. He saw five tee shots connect with trees, but ricochet back into the fairway.
Johnson, who won the 2010 State Am as a high school senior, recorded a 2-over 74 and was pleased.
“All the bounces went my way,” he said. “I was lucky to shoot what I did today.”
Johnson recorded three birdies and an eagle. He chipped in his final birdie on No. 18.
Starkville’s Richard Reed, an Old Waverly member, was 2-under on the front 9, but slipped to a 3-over 75 for the day. A triple bogey on No. 13 derailed his round.
Austin Rose, a Tupelo High golfer and last spring’s MHSAA Class 6A medalist, was tied with Homan at 4-over 76. Blue Mountain’s Michael Collie and Potts Camp’s Jon Williams also recorded 76s.
Brookhaven’s Jacob Ross, an Ole Miss signee, recorded a hole-in-one on the par 3, No. 7 hole.