Despite the inclement weather that blanketed most of Arkansas on Saturday, the Optimist Regional Qualifier was still able to proceed as scheduled.
“I would say the tournament went well and the course held up to the recent rains,” Reggie Grant, the PGA pro at the Pine Bluff Country Club, said. “We have had a really wet spring and it is remarkable how well the course played.”
Some of the flights were limited to just nine holes due to the rain but it was enough to get the qualifiers for the tournament held in Florida.
Neriah Brown, of Hot Springs, capped off the qualifier by defeating Kaleb Coble in the Boys 16-18 flight after two playoff rounds on hole No. 9, which is a par-3.
“It feels pretty good,” Brown said. “I just stayed focused and saw an opening. I had to make sure I hit the green.
“I had to hit a solid putt and get it close.”
After nine holes, Coble and Brown were tied at 35. After tying again on the first playoff hole, they had to reset and try again.
Coble teed off and missed the green, landing on the left side of the bunker.
Brown followed and landed his tee shot on the green. He had an opportunity to birdie the hole.
Coble’s chip over the bunker was a good one and it got him on the green. But from there he had to putt twice and it cost him the match.
“I felt good out there,” Brown said. “The course gets pretty tight.
“The fairway is my first priority, after that its about solid shots.”
Brown was able to two-putt and par the hole to win the playoff and the flight.
He will join the other flight winners at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championship at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Florida.
More than 5,000 golfers compete in official Optimist District qualifying tournaments. The best of these golfers, along with international golfers from around the globe, advance to the Optimist.
Other winners include: Will Gibson, Ethan Eppinette, Emma Edwards and Jose Roberson. The runners-up also qualify for the all-expense paid trip to Florida.
For more information, please visit http://www.optimist.org/GolfersMenu.cfm.