Brisson, Tilton lead way in Thomson

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By David Westin

Staff Writer

THOMSON — Mike Jackson probably won’t win the senior division of the Camellia Classic at Belle Meade Country Club today. He’s five shots behind Jim Brisson after opening with 76 in the Regions Cup event.

Still, Jackson was in an upbeat mood after Saturday’s round, and it wasn’t just because he hit the ball well enough to break par (35 putts were his downfall).

His positive mood can be traced back to last week’s Persimmon Hill/North Augusta Exchange Club Classic, where Jackson ended more than three years of frustration by winning the senior division title.

It was Jackson’s 13th career senior victory, allowing him to tie Ed Payne’s Regions Cup record, which was set in 2004.

Jackson’s previous victory had come June 4, 2006 at Bartram Trail. The Persimmon Hill win ended a 28-tournament winless drought.

“I think a little pressure is off me,” said Jackson who believes he’s got a “real good chance” to break the record with a win in one of the remaining five events he’ll play in this season.

“I really like the way I’m striking the ball; I just need to putt better,” Jackson said. “(Local golfer) Joe Felton once said that putting will make up for a lot of bad golf, but you can’t play good enough to make up for bad putting.”

That’s what happened Saturday.

“I missed a lot of short putts; there’s no way I should have been over par, but that’s golf,” the Martinez resident said.

Jackson, 60, won nine of his senior titles during the 2003 and 2004 seasons when he was 54 and 55, respectively. He was winless in 2005, won once in 2006 and was shutout in 2007, 2008 and in the first three events of this season.

He never doubted he’d win again.

“For the last couple of years I’ve been close to winning,” said Jackson, who lost a sudden-death playoff to Brisson last year.

Finishing tied for sixth place in last year’s Georgia Senior Championship solidified Jackson’s belief that his winning days weren’t over.

“That told me I could compete at that level,” he said.

Brisson, 56, will be going for his third senior division win today. He’s two shots up on Chuck Withers and Glen Hurt and three in front of senior rookie Paul Moore and veteran Lad Wright.

It’s also crowded at the top in the regular division. Former Evans golfer Jacob Tilton, who is headed to Armstrong Atlantic State on a golf scholarship this fall, leads with 68. Two-time defending Augusta City Amateur champion Jordan Johnstun had 69, Matt Motes shot 70 and Regions Cup points leader Doug Weiss had 72.

Johnstun, a two-time U.S. Amateur participant who has qualified for next month’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, is a member at Bartram Trail, as is Tilton.

“We’ve played three or four times,” Tilton said. “He usually gets me by a couple. I got him by one today, but that doesn’t mean anything for tomorrow.”

Based on his record, the 22-year-old Johnstun came in as the favorite.

“Just because you have something on paper doesn’t mean anything until you play the round,” said Johnstun who is using this week as a tuneup for the Public Links.

“I wanted to keep my skills sharp and keep my competition edge going,” he said.

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851

or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.


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