Originally created 06/27/04

Jackson wants to be first double dipper



THOMSON - Forget about just beating his fellow senior golfers. Augusta's Mike Jackson, the 2003 Regions Cup Senior Player of the Year, wants to defeat everybody in the Camellia Classic.

Jackson, 56, hopes to take advantage today of a rare chance to win the senior and regular divisions in a Regions Cup tournament.

The Camellia Classic, which is played at the short and tight Belle Meade Country Club, is typically the only Regions Cup event each year where seniors play from the same tees as the regular division.

That means seniors are eligible to be double dippers - they can win the 50-over division and the regular division.

With an even-par 72 on Saturday, Jackson leads the seniors by two shots over Chuck Withers, and is just two shots behind North Augusta's Rusty Flanders, the regular division leader.

The only other golfers ahead of Jackson are defending champion Chip Whitaker, 2000 winner Crane Garren and Jay Blackburn, who had 71s.

Tommy Carpenter, the Regions Cup regular division points leader, and Robert Pickrell, matched Jackson's 72.

Jackson would like to see a few more of the shorter Regions Cup events use the same tees for both divisions. At other stops, the regular division plays the blue tees and the seniors play the white tees.

At Belle Meade, the blue tees measure 6,403 yards; the white tees play to 5,792 yards.

"There are four to five seniors that day-in-and-day out can win the regular division," said Belle Meade head pro Rich Davis, the man who made the "one tee" decision. "They deserve the chance."

No one in the 16-year history of the Regions Cup has won both divisions in a tournament. Two years ago, Withers came the closest, winning the Camellia Classic senior title and finishing two shots out of a playoff in the regular division.

Flanders, Blackburn and Carpenter said they didn't have a problem with the seniors having the chance to beat them.

"If they want to tee it up with us, bring it on back," Carpenter said.

"We've got some seniors out there capable of scoring just as good as the regular division," Blackburn said.

At any rate, today's winner will be the player who is able to make some putts and shoot in the 60s, the leaders agreed.

"It's out there," said Flanders, who reeled off four consecutive birdies (Nos. 4-6) and had six for the round. "I wouldn't be surprised if somebody shot 65."

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.