BELDEN – Tucker Jenkins is used to playing golf in the Mississippi heat, but Sunday’s brutal conditions for the opening round of the North Mississippi Coca-Cola Junior Golf Tour Championship made it tough on the young players.
“It feels like its 125 degrees,” Jenkins said in the comfort of the Tupelo County Club’s pro shop. “I had to rotate three gloves. One would get wet with sweat and I’d go to a dry one.”
The freshman-to-be at Baldwyn High School said playing well helps you deal with the intense heat.
“You definitely feel better if you’re playing well,” he said.
Jenkins fired a 4-over-par 76 to take the first-round lead in the boys age 14-15 division of the two-day tournament at the TCC. He recorded a pair of birdies with putts of 40 feet on No. 14 and 15 feet on No. 3.
Jenkins, who owns a two-stroke lead over Tupelo’s Austin Rose and Corinth’s Collin Burns, is attempting to win his fifth straight Coca-Cola age division championship. He won last year’s 12-13 title.
West Union’s Austin Bynum fired the best round of the day, recording an even-par 72 that included back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18, to take an 8-shot lead over Pontotoc’s Clif Hanna in the boys 16-18 division.
“I didn’t hit the ball that great today, but I putted pretty well,” Bynum said. “I think it will take a 75 or under (Monday) to win.”
In the boys 12-13 division, Corinth’s Alex Tull, with an 81, has a 3-shot lead over Parker Brooks and Isaac Gerhart.
In the boys 10-11 division, Cameron Stokes and Brooks Wing are the co-leaders through nine holes with 7-over-par 43s.
In the girls division Ingomar’s Molly Hale shot a 5-over-par 77 to take a big lead.
“I played pretty well, but I struggled (bogey) on the last hole,” she said. “I had a tough landing on my drive and had to punch it into the fairway. After I chipped up I two-putted.”
Hale’s lone birdie was the result of an 8-foot putt on the par 4 11th.
Hale, who will be a freshman in high school, said the heat wasn’t a factor.
“It started getting to me on the first nine, but I was able to take a little break,” she said. “I played well on the back, so it really didn’t bother me.”
Gene Phelps / NEMS Daily Journal