Ramey sets own pace, takes first-round lead

Chad Ramey smoked the Tupelo Country Club course Tuesday, but to hear him tell it, his 6-under-par round was “nothing spectacular.”
The Itawamba AHS senior recorded six birdie putts on the TCC’s lightning-fast bermuda greens, including two in the 20-foot range, to take the first-round lead in the 23rd annual Pros of Tomorrow golf tournament.
“Really, I did nothing spectacular, nothing outstanding,” said Ramey, the leader of the Indians’ Class 4A state championship team last spring. “I guess I did everything pretty well today.
“It was just kind of all there.”
Ramey, who has a 66 on the age 16-18 division leaderboard, heads into today’s final 18 holes with a three-shot lead over Reid Holly. The Madison golfer also recorded six birdies, but canceled three of those with bogeys.
Meridian’s Easton Key shot a 1-under 71, while Tupelo’s Fletcher Johnson is in fourth after an even-par round of 72.
“I play here a lot, but I don’t shoot well here,” said Johnson, a member of Tupelo’s Class 5A state championship team.
Ramey rolled in a 20-footer for his first birdie on No. 12. He started play on the back nine. He followed it a 10-foot birdie on No. 13.
The TCC greens were registering a blistering 12 on the stimpmeter prior to the tournament. Ramey called them “extremely fast” following his round.
“The main thing I focused on was my speed and then the line,” he said. “If I missed, I wanted to leave it around the hole.”
On the front nine, he continued his back-to-back birdie run with tap-in on No. 1 and a 10-footer on No. 2, then a 10-footer on No. 7 and a 20 to 25-footer on No. 8.
“I didn’t make everything, but I did make a lot of good putts,” he said. “I also missed two putts under eight feet, and I missed a couple of other birdie putts.”
Ramey’s high school coach, Michael Nanney, watched his player finish on No. 8 and No. 9 and was impressed with his overall play.
“He hit as well as I seen him hit all summer,” Nanney said. “If he continues to putt like he did today, he’ll have more scores like he had today.”
Ramey said the key for him today is: “Continue to hit the fairways and the greens.”
This week’s tournament is also part of the North Mississippi Coca-Cola Junior Tour. The players from the Tour will earn double points in their age divisions based on their finish.
In other divisions
– In the boys 11-under division, defending champion Andy Ogletree of Little Rock, Miss., trails Belden’s Parker Brooks by one stroke. Brooks, who leads the Coca-Cola Tour standings in his age group, shot a 2-over-par 74.
– In the boys 14-15 division, Hattiesburg’s Matt Tanner has even-par 72 to lead Brookhaven’s Jacob Ross by two strokes.
n In the boys 12-13 division, Guntown’s Tucker Jenkins shot a 3-over 75 to take a four-stroke lead.
– In the girls 13-18 division, defending champion Esther Huffman of Olive Branch shot a 6-over 78 for a comfortable 15-shot lead.

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal