By Kyle Alford
Special to the Journal
SALTILLO – The 2014 Northeast Mississippi Coca-Cola Junior Golf Tour completed its first round of the two-day championship Monday at the Big Oaks Golf Course.
Brookes Hudson, 13, of Tupelo, finished first in the age 12-13 division by shooting a 73.
“The Tour has been going good. (Tour Director) Greg Flannagan has really done a good job of keeping everyone intact; we’ve played a lot faster this year,” Hudson said.
Monday, in particular, was fast for Hudson, whose group teed off first. For him, the key to success in the first round was nothing new.
“My short game – my chipping and putting – was what was working for me today. That’s the normal (factor) of my game that works,” he said.
Jake Crosson, 14, of Columbus, had the lowest overall score in the first round by shooting a 72. It’s been a better back half of the Tour for Crosson, who was able to carry momentum into the championship.
“The first half of the Tour I played pretty bad for me, but I was still able to place,” he said. “Towards the end of this summer, I’ve started to play some of my best rounds.”
The key to Crosson’s late surge has been consistency.
“I’ve kept it in the fairway and I’ve kept all my irons straight,” he said. “If it’s been a long shot and a high risk, I haven’t gone for it.”
Crosson will strive to keep the momentum going today as he competes for the Tour’s championship.
Brandon Walker of Vardaman leads the boys 16-18 division with a score of 74, Emerson Blair leads the Powerade (ages 6-9) division with a score of 48, Drew Wilson leads the boys 10-11 division with a score of 38, Hannah Grace Nall leads the girls 10-12 division with a score of 46, and Riley Ann Mayhew leads the girls 13-18 division with 81s.
Golfers who finished the Tour in the top eight of their division qualified for the championship.