Harpole in lead at County Championship

Published 8:19 pm Saturday, July 28, 2018

Only one golfer finished under par Saturday during the first round of the Warren County Championship. A lot more still have a chance to win.

Jeff Harpole shot a 2-under par 70 to set the pace at Clear Creek Golf Course, but will have to fend off a huge pack in the final round Sunday to win the tournament for the first time. Ten golfers were within seven shots and striking distance of the lead.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s wide open. It’ll be great. There are some people that are in positions that they haven’t been in before,” said Parker Rutherford, the 2015 Warren County champion and last year’s runner-up. He shot a 76 on Saturday. “I’ll be comfortable. I’ve been here several times, chasing and holding a lead. It’ll be interesting to see. We’ve got some new names near the top, we’ve got a new leader, and we’ll see how he does. But I think he’s really solid. We’re going to have to come get him.”

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Rutherford was one of five golfers, including defending champion Channing Curtis, tied at 76 but still within striking distance of the lead. Javier Torres, Aaron Posner and Cameron Curtis were also at 76.
Closer to the leader Harpole were Brett Baker in second place at 72, Austin Neihaus at 74 and Dustin Simmons at 75.

The last person into the championship flight was Zack Shiers, who shot a 77.

Harpole was the survivor on a tough day at Clear Creek. He and Baker were the only ones to shoot par or better, as dry conditions in the morning and early afternoon led to fast greens and clouds of dust flying up from undercut shots all over the course.

Rutherford, however, noted how fast things can change. Afternoon thunderstorms that rolled in just as the first round concluded should soften up the course for Sunday and create a mad dash to the finish.

In the 2017 County Championship four players — including Harpole, who had a share of the lead — broke par. None did it in the second round. Harpole shot an 81 in the second round and finished fourth.

That’s proof that a few shots here and there, Rutherford said, could make all the difference and that the scores can flip in a hurry.

“Six strokes? Anything can happen tomorrow. There’s 18 holes to play tomorrow,” Rutherford said. “I played well today, I really did. When it counted I couldn’t get anything to go down. I have lots of positives to come out of this round. I just need to play well tomorrow.”

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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