Mekus in front, Whittington lurks at County Championship
Published 11:55 pm Saturday, July 26, 2014
Chris Whittington seemed to do everything he could to up the difficulty of his Warren County Championship title defense.
The three-time winner barely practiced in the weeks leading up to the tournament, and hit the golf course Saturday morning after working a late night shift at the Ergon refinery.
Despite all that, he was in the same place he always seems to be in this event — right up front.
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Whittington shot a one-under par 71 Saturday, putting him one shot behind leader Nick Mekus heading into today’s final round.
Channing Curtis was two shots back at 73, followed by Matt Hossley and Keith Ehrhardt at 74. The championship flight will tee off at 11 a.m. today at Clear Creek Golf Course.
Mekus was a surprise leader.
A two-time MHSAA Class 1A individual state champion in 2011 and 2012 at St. Aloysius, he’d largely dropped off the local golf scene since then. The last time he played in the Warren County Championship was 2011, when he finished fourth.
His sharp first round on Saturday, however, served notice that he’s still in top form and will be the man to beat in the tournament.
Curtis, meanwhile, continued his sterling summer with another impressive outing. He followed up his victories in the Warren County Junior Championship and Clear Creek Club Championship with a solid first round that will also put him in contention — and the final group — today.
The same couldn’t be said of perennial bridesmaid Parker Rutherford. He made the cut for the championship flight, but his streak of four consecutive top-three finishes is in danger of ending after a first-round 76.
Rutherford finished second in the tournament in 2010, 2012 and 2013, and third in 2011.
Other golfers in the championship flight are Robert Portwood, who shot a 75, and Ben Brooks and Mike Hurley, who are tied with Rutherford for sixth at 76.
In the women’s division, Karley Whittington was in firm control after she shot 32 on the front nine and finished with a first-round 73. That was 10 strokes better than Laura Phillips, who was at 83.
Linda McHann was a distant third, at 90.
The men’s senior division was considerably closer. Brad Heisler and Rodney McHann each shot 78 on Saturday to hold a four-shot lead over John Ferguson. Jim Hines was another 10 shots off the lead after a first-round 88.