Experience pays off for New Albany’s Holt in youth golf play

AMORY – Austin Holt mastered the first nine holes of Monday’s Coca-Cola North Mississippi Junior Golf Tour stop at River Birch Golf Club.
The second nine … “I lost focus. I didn’t play well,” said the Northeast Mississippi Community College signee from New Albany.
Despite posting a 6-over-par score on his back nine, Holt’s 3-under tally on the front side gave him an 18-hole total of 3-over 75, which was good enough to win the age 16-18 division.
“I had four birdies on that side,” Holt said of his solid start. “On one hole I hit a 6 iron 195 yards to within two inches.”
Holt was a seven-shot winner over Pontotoc’s Clif Hanna and Saltillo’s Bryson Kimbrough, who both recorded 82. Hanna took second place on a scorecard playoff.
Holt says the experience of playing on the Coca-Cola tour for five years has helped improve his game.
“You’re not as nervous and it helps your confidence,” he said. “I think it’s helped me. It’s been fun.”
Holt plans to play in the remainder of the Tour’s six events and hopes to qualify for the Tour Championship scheduled for Aug. 5-6 at Old Waverly in West Point.
Chase Taylor of Columbus matched Holt’s score of 75 to capture the age 14-15 division. Starkville’s Ryan Lacy was second with a 76 and Ripley’s Zack Pritchett third with an 81.
Tupelo’s Hayden Buckley shot a 78 to win the age 12-13 division. Last season’s 10-11 division overall champion, Will Thompson of Aberdeen, was second with an 81. Oxford’s Turner Arnold also recorded an 81, but lost on a scorecard playoff.
Buckley, who is a member of the Tupelo High golf team, recorded four “tap-in” birdies during his round. His best putt was a 10-footer for par on No. 14.
“I played my long irons well today,” he said.
Tupelo’s Kathleen Reynolds edged Saltillo’s Makenzie Koehn with the help of a scorecard playoff to win the girls division. Both players shot 110 in regulation.
In the boys age 10-11 division, Tupelo’s Parker Brooks shot a nine-hole score of 44 to win. Bruce’s Cameron Clarke was second with a 49, followed by Wyatt Allen with a 56.

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal