Juniors' Gateway series pays a visit to Bent Creek

Friday, June 18, 2004

FRED LYNCH * flynch@semissourian.com

Zachary Meyer, 10, of Cape Girardeau sank a putt on the 11th hole Thursday at the Gateway Section PGA Southeast Missouri junior series tournament at Bent Creek Golf Course . By Toby Carrig ~ Southeast Missourian

Josh Dowdy notices little difference between the high school golf season he recently completed and the summer golf season.

"You don't have as much pressure," Dowdy said, "but it's not that much different. You still have to concentrate."

Dowdy displayed some concentration Thursday morning in the Gateway Section PGA Southeast Missouri junior series tournament at Bent Creek Golf Club in Jackson. The Poplar Bluff senior-to-be shot a 78, tying Cape Girardeau's Blake Driskell for medalist honors in the tour division for 16- to 18-year-old boys. Logan MacDonald was third with an 81.

The stop, which had a field of 30 golfers, was the second of eight events in the Gateway PGA SEMO series. The golfers began the circuit June 7 at Kimbeland Country Club in Jackson -- where Kirk Lohmann earned top honors with a 70 -- and next play Wednesday at Kennett Country Club.

Dowdy will mix in the Gateway circuit with events such as the state's boys junior amateur championsip July 13-14 in Rolla, Mo., and events in St. Louis, Sedalia, Mo., and Moberly, Mo. He hopes the summer work pays off when Poplar Bluff tries to make another run to the state tournament in 2005.

"I'm still out there everyday," Dowdy said of his summer schedule. "Usually the same group of guys just get together and hit balls."

Jack Connell, the director of golf for Dalhousie Golf Club who organizes the summer tour, said the circuit gives junior golfers a chance to do more than just hit balls.

"All the local golf pros and courses support junior golf and make it possible for the juniors who are eventually going to play high school golf to see some different golf courses," Connell said. "When college coaches begin looking at kids, they want to know if they've played in competition, if they can interact with other kids and if they can play different courses."

The tour includes divisions for boys and girls ages 10 through 18. In the eight Southeast series events, players accumulate points from their best four finishes toward qualification for the Gateway Section championships. The top three qualify in the nine-hole division, which plays its championship in late July at Ballwin Golf Course in Ballwin, Mo., and the 18-hole division, which plays Aug. 2-3 at Crystal Springs in Maryland Heights, Mo.

Picking up the 20 points for first-place finishes Thursday: Eric Hayes (10-11, boys 9-hole), Jon Bowman (12-13, boys 9-hole), Mark Crews (14-15, boys 9-hole), Tanner Werner (12-13, boys regular), Peyton Beasley (14-15, boys regular), Lindsay Riffle (14-15, girls tour), Ashley Richardet (16-18, girls tour) and Zeke Gibbons (14-15, boys tour).

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