Northwest Rankin’s Brady takes top spot in 5A golf

Kevin Brady admits he’s not necessarily revered in Madison County.

It’s no surprise. Brady lives in a rival county: Rankin. And he plays for a rival high school: Northwest Rankin.

So when this junior golfer heard an obscenity yelled toward him while on a sudden-death playoff hole Thursday afternoon, he had a good laugh and just smiled.

Then he birdied the hole, parred the next and won the Class 5A boys individual championship at Reunion Golf and Country Club.

“I think it’s because we’re in Madison County,” Brady said smiling. “They don’t like me too much.”

Brady’s 2-foot putt at the second playoff hole secured the individual title over DeSoto Central’s Chad Cupples.

Tupelo’s Fletcher Johnson was eliminated with a par on the first extra hole. But his team claimed a second straight 5A team championship, storming back from five strokes down after Day 1 of this two-day, 36-hole event.

The Golden Wave edged Northwest Rankin by three shots for the crown. Much of that has to do with Johnson, whose final-round 69 was the tournament low by two shots.

Paired in the final group in regulation, Johnson and Brady sank short par putts on the 18th hole to advance into a playoff with Cupples, who had finished his final round some two hours before. All three were locked at 1 over par.

In that same final group, defending champion Thomas Watkins of Madison Central missed a 6-foot par putt on the 18th, falling a shot shy of making it a four-man playoff.

Watkins’ 9-iron from 153 yards out came up short and right of the par-4’s green. His chip came up short, too.

“I can’t believe I missed the green on the last hole,” a disappointed Watkins said. “I caught (my 9-iron) just a hair heavy.”

Meanwhile, Brady nestled a 25-foot birdie putt to within 2 feet at 18 before tapping in for that playoff spot.

Minutes later, Brady got his shout-out as he approached the green on the first playoff hole – No. 1. Mississippi 463 runs along the front nine at Reunion. The voice came screaming from a southbound vehicle with Brady’s full name after and before the obscenity.

The yelling drew laughter from the 50 spectators, and Johnson turned to Brady and questioned him about it. He just shook his head and cracked a smile.

Moments later, he sank a 5-foot must-make birdie putt to push the playoff to a second hole – No. 9, a reachable par 5.

After a drive in the woods, Brady had to chip out into the fairway. He hit a screaming 250-yard 3-wood for his third shot that landed about 20 feet over the pin in some thin rough.

“I thought, ‘I might as well hit it close,'” he said.

The 17-year-old chipped on and sank that 24-incher for the win.

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