Vicksburg Country Club claims Warren County Cup

Published 4:27 pm Monday, August 20, 2018

For a few fleeting moments, it seemed as if Clear Creek Golf Course might be able to stage an epic comeback in the Warren County Cup.

Down seven points entering Sunday’s match play round, and needing to win 11 of the 14 head-to-head matches to retain possession of the Cup, Clear Creek got off to a good start by winning four of the first five.

Eventually, however, the results started trickling back to the clubhouse at the Vicksburg Country Club and the comeback quickly turned into just an afternoon of golf among friends.

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The Vicksburg Country Club team won six of the last eight matches in the lineup Sunday to beat Clear Creek 18 ½-9 ½ in the 2018 Warren County Cup competition. The VCC squad won the Ryder Cup-style competition between members of the county’s two golf clubs for the second time in three years, after Clear Creek had won it seven times in a row.

“It’s a pride thing, and we look forward to this all year long. This is the most fun that you can have in golf, is when you get in a team environment. It’s good to get it done again, out here especially,” said VCC captain Jeff Harpole, who completed a season sweep of Warren County’s major tournaments by winning the Warren County Championship, Vicksburg Country Club Championship, and the Warren County Cup.

The VCC won all three rounds — four-ball and alternate shot on Saturday, and then match play on Sunday. The VCC won six of the seven points in the alternate shot round, with none of its victories going to the 18th hole. That gave the VCC a 10 ½-3 ½ lead going into match play, where it only needed to win four of the 14 matches to win the Cup.

“It wasn’t impossible. We had a similar comeback last year. But we were definitely too far behind. We were way out of shape after the afternoon matches (Saturday),” said Clear Creek’s Parker Rutherford, who lost 3 and 1 to Harpole on Sunday. “Alternate shot’s tough, especially out here. There’s a solid number of our guys who haven’t played out here much or at all. And these guys out here really know how to get it around. They’re tough to beat out here.”

Clear Creek didn’t go down quietly. Channing Curtis, Pete Scott, Dustin Chamblee and Ryan Hoben all won in the first wave of matches to make up some ground.

Among that same wave, however, Chris Sullivan beat Bubba Ward 3 and 2, and Pierson Waring routed Jim Darnell 5 and 3 to pull the VCC within two points of clinching the tournament. The VCC then swept the middle set of matches, with Judd Mims, John Boland and John Halpin Caldwell all closing out their opponents by the 15th hole.

Eric Richards finished off Bob Davidson on the 17th hole for the clincher, as a host of his teammates looked on in golf carts from the nearby hillside.

Clear Creek and VCC split the last four matches on the card, but those were mere formalities.

“I didn’t think I was going to win, period. I was struggling for the first nine holes or so. I was surprised when they said I clinched it. I pulled it together the last three or four holes and was able to make a couple of pars. That did it,” Richards said. “This is the hole to do it, where everybody can come out and watch us finish. That’s pretty neat.”

Harpole credited two of his alternate selections, Sullivan and John Robert Ward, for leading the charge. They replaced injured team members Austin Golding and Chris Whittington on the roster and won five of their six combined matches.

“That’s what did it, right there,” Harpole said. “Steady play from all of our guys, really. We just got so far ahead after yesterday that it was going to be tough for (Clear Creek) to beat us today. They made a pretty good charge at it. They just had too much of a hill to climb.”

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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