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Golfers set for state tourney

By Staff
STATE AM PARTICIPANT Clinton Hales is one of 12 area golfers that will be taking part in the 87th Annual Mississippi Golf Association State Amateur takes place June 6-9 here at Canebrake Golf Club. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Shawn Wansley / special to The Star
May 30, 2002
HATTIESBURG It's not the Rett Crowder Invitational' just yet, but it's becoming pretty close.
The 87th annual Mississippi Golf Association State Amateur takes place June 6-9 here at Canebrake Golf Club.
Crowder, a Madison resident, will be aiming for his fifth straight victory in the event, something no one else has ever done in the history of the tournament.
Crowder, who played collegiately at LSU, has won the State Am five times, including a 1992 victory at Laurel Country Club. He thinks the fact the tournament is 72 holes long is to his advantage.
Canebrake, located just west of here off Highway 98, is rated the No. 3 course in the state by Golf Digest behind Old Waverly in West Point and Dancing Rabbit in Philadelphia. Crowder said it's a privilege to play the Canebrake layout, which was rated by Golf Digest as one of the best new courses in the nation in 1999.
MGA President Benji Nelson of Madison, who won the title in 1995, said the course will be a very fair test of golf for all involved. "No matter who wins here, you won't have a cheap' champion," he said. "You are going to have play your best golf both mentally and physically for four days. The course will recognize the best player here."
The course, like most every course in south Mississippi, has not received enough rain this spring, according to Golf Course Superintendent Joel Keller.
Former champions entered in the field include former Meridian resident and now a Jackson resident, Mike Taylor, who has won the championship 10 times.
Taylor won it four years in a row, from 1972-75 and also in 1965-66, 1968, 1970, and 1977-78. John Lang, who won in 1980, Ken Graeber, who won in 1988, and David Coleman, who won in 1996, are also entered.
And Meridian's 83-year-old Hunter George Weddington, a winner in 1939, 1947, and 1948, will be playing in his 62nd straight State Amateur.
The youngest golfer in the field will be Canebrake member Matt Fast, who is 15-years-old.
The tournament field consists of 144 players, which will be cut to the low 60, plus ties, after Friday's second round.
Crowder believes golfers will have to do the usual things to be successful at Canebrake next week. "You've got to drive it straight and hit it in the right spot on the greens because the greens can be tough," he said.
Dan Angero, Earl Aycock, Doyle Bryan, Clinton Hales, Winston Powell, Mack Stewart, Steve Stewart, H.G. Weddington, J.T. Williamson.
Matt Smith
Johnathan Winstead
Dan Luke