BY BRANDON SPECK
WEST POINT – If you had to pick the golfers likely to reach the final round of the Mississippi Junior Golf Association’s State Tournament with the best scores, these were probably on most lists.
In a tournament delayed multiple times by rain and lightning, two Tupelo High golfers are in the top four of a tight field heading to the final 18 holes today at Old Waverly.
Desoto Central’s Braden Thornberry, the event’s defending champ, leads the 16-18 division with a 2-under 142. After a one-over Wednesday, Tupelo’s Austin Rose sits at a two-day 143, tied for second place with Brookhaven’s Ole Miss signee Jacob Ross.
Tupelo teammate Hayden Buckley’s two days of even par-72 has him two shots off the lead, tied with Olive Branch’s Phillip Hickman. Buckley finished third last year.
“It’s definitely the best in the state, some of the best in the country,” Buckley said. “Being two back is definitely a good thing.”
Tupelo’s Blake Harris is three shots off the lead. The older boys group was lucky to get their delayed rounds in as rain cut the day short before 6 p.m. Some were unable to finish, including the girls 16-18 and boys 14-15. Decisions will be made today on whether to shorten the event.
Rose’s round got away from him late, with a triple bogey on 16. He had a bogey on No. 18 to finish the last three holes 4-over.
“Other than that it was solid. I hit the ball pretty well, just kind of managed. I didn’t really hit it that great,” Rose said. “Today I should have shot a really good round.”
Buckley and Rose finished the last four holes of their rain-shortened first round early Wednesday, then played 18 more. Rose said the course played longer due to wet fairways, but more receptive.
“Usually you struggle spinning wedges at Waverly’s greens. You can spin them pretty good now,” Rose said.
If it comes down to the end, Buckley could fare well, as he’s birdied No. 18 in both rounds.
He’s teamed with Rose in a run of six straight championships at Tupelo. They’ll be facing off today.
“We’re best friends. We battle every day. I want to beat him. He wants to beat me,” Buckley said. “Either way, I won’t be mad. He’s a great player.”