By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
SAUCIER – Mother Nature played a crucial role during Sunday’s final round of the 98th annual Mississippi Golf Association’s State Amateur Championship.
One player – Steve Wilson – survived. Another – Eddie Brescher III – did not.
Ocean Springs’ Wilson and Canton’s Brescher were tied at 11-under-par with two holes remaining when a steady drizzle turned into high winds and a driving rain as they approached the No. 17 tee box.
Brescher hit his tee shot left and into a hazard. It eventually cost him three strokes and the tournament. He carded a quadruple bogey on the hole.
“It was ridiculous; I couldn’t hold my club it was raining so bad,” said the Millsaps College golf coach. “It did cost me.”
Wilson recorded a par on the 17th, then bogeyed the 18th after a stray tee shot of his own. Still, he walked off the damp Grand Bear course with a 3-shot victory.
Wilson’s four-day total was 70-71-67-71 for a 9-under-par 279. He was 1-under Sunday. Brescher’s line was 68-69-72-73 for a 6-under 282. He recorded a 1-over his final round.
“It was brutal,” Wilson said, of the sudden weather change. “The wind and rain was awful. You couldn’t tell where your shot was going.”
Two-time defending champ, Mississippi State golf coach Clay Homan, finished eighth at 2-over 290. Okolona’s Barrett Edens and Starkville’s Richard Reed were tied for ninth at 3-over 291.
The State Am victory was the second for Wilson, who won the 2007 title at Reunion in Madison.
“This is really cool,” Wilson said, moments before accepting the winner’s trophy. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Wilson, a former Southern Miss golfer, won the USGA Mid-Amateur Championship in 2008 and qualified to play in the 2009 Masters.
“My strategy today was to play each shot,” he said. “It got to a point where I had to start making some birdies.”
Wilson started slow with one birdie and one bogey through eight holes. He then birdied three straight. He got up and down out of a bunker on 11 for his final birdie.
Brescher, who had led the tournament the first two days, tied the score at 11-under with an 8-foot birdie putt on 14.