Riveros leads at Warren County Junior

Published 9:33 am Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Gabriel Riveros hits his tee shot on the 15th hole Monday during the first round of the Warren County Junior Championship at Clear Creek Golf Course. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

Gabriel Riveros hits his tee shot on the 15th hole Monday during the first round of the Warren County Junior Championship at Clear Creek Golf Course. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

Gabriel Riveros and Channing Curtis are high school teammates and great friends. They know each other inside and out, especially when it comes to golf.

That’s why, even with a six-shot margin between them and no one else in contention, neither one was willing to put Riveros’ name on the Warren County Junior Championship just yet.

Riveros shot a steady 73 in the first round of the tournament at Clear Creek Golf Course on Monday while Curtis struggled to a 79. Both players have flip-flopped those scores at other events in the past, and both know this one was far from over heading into the final round today.

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“There’s a lot of golf left. I don’t think it’s over,” said Curtis, who won last year’s tournament by beating Riveros in a playoff. “It just depends on how he takes it and how I play tomorrow. If I come out with guns blazing and he falls, for sure there’s a chance. If he holds his ground and he’s playing solid, there’s not a shot.”

The “A” Division of the Junior Championship was the St. Aloysius Invitational. The only four players in it — Riveros, Curtis, Brandon Teller and Wilson Palmertree — all play high school golf for St. Al.

Palmertree shot an 89 to finish the round in third place and Teller was fourth at 96.

Riveros wasn’t exceptional in the first round, but he was steady. After bogeying the fifth and sixth holes, he didn’t make another until the 18th. He had two birdies and nine pars over an 11-hole span.

“It could’ve been better, not worse. Sixteen and 17 are definitely birdie holes for me, and I was even through 15 holes. I could’ve shot 2-under, at least,” Riveros said. “I feel pretty good about winning, if I can play the same as I did today.”

Curtis, meanwhile, struggled all day. He was 3-over par on the front nine despite making birdie on the eighth hole and par on No. 9. Five consecutive pars seemed to stop the bleeding, but he bogeyed Nos. 14, 15 and 16 and finished the round at 7-over.

“It was pretty bad,” Curtis said with a laugh. “I got off to a really rough start. It wasn’t going my way. I think it was just one of those days. It’ll definitely be better tomorrow. I’ve been playing really well the past few weeks. I’ll do better tomorrow and try to give Gabe a run for his money.”

No matter the outcome today, Curtis said it wasn’t a big deal among friends. Both know they can beat the other on any given day.

“It’s not really a big deal. Playing for the title, I guess. But we still know either one of us can win at any time,” Curtis said.

The “B” and “C” divisions consisted of nine-hole rounds for younger players. Phillip Upshaw shot a 42 to lead Joshua Larson by two shots in Division B.

In Division C, Carson Smith shot a 47 and was in first place. Vaughn Hynum was six shots back at 53 and Thompson Fortenberry was seven behind.

Defending champion Karley Whittington opted to sit out the girls’ tournament and 13-year-old Elizabeth Keen was on a championship pace by default. Keen was the only player entered. She shot a 67 on Monday.

The tournament was set to conclude today. The winner and runner-up — which will be Riveros and Curtis, barring a miracle comeback by Palmertree or Teller — get a berth in the Warren County Championship, which begins Saturday morning at Clear Creek.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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