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Camaraderie, friendship rule Hills

By James D. Horne jhorne@paducahsun.com

As much as golfers at the 58th Annual Rolling Hills Country Club Men's Invitational want to win and do well, they also really enjoyed the time they got to spend on the course Saturday with lifelong friends.

"The weather was good and the golf course was very good, but this tournament is all about playing with guys you enjoy golfing with," said Greg Overstreet, St. Mary's head boys basketball coach, who ended up leading the second flight with his 1-over-par 73. "There's great camaraderie, and it's a bunch of good guys out here. We all had a good time."

Others agreed.

"Today was a day to enjoy friendships and celebrate not having to work," said Eric Crane, whose foursome included Jed Davis, Eric Reed and John Wells. "It's just nice to be able to come out here, golf and spend time with friends."

The tournament will resume this morning with the first groups teeing off at 7.

In the championship flight, golfers will be chasing first-round leaders Josh Rhodes and James Meeks, who both shot a 5-under 67.

Right behind Rhodes and Meeks were Adam Butler - who's playing in his last tournament as an amateur - Murray State rising sophomore and St. Mary alumni Matt Zakutney and Justin Gosa, all finishing with a 3-under 69.

Next were Steve Gallimore, Greg Beale and Matt Poat with their first-round 2-under 70 and right behind were Drake Stepter, Jason Goodyke and Will Cox at 1-under 71.

David Glass led the first flight with his even-par 72. John Howard, assistant softball coach for McCracken County, topped the first round in the third flight with a 72. Lyn Smith was first in the fourth flight with an 83.

Bill Metzger led the senior division with a 69.

Butler, who golfed at John A. Logan College and Western Kentucky University, felt bittersweet about his last outing as an amateur. While he's excited about turning pro, he also realizes the opportunities to play with longtime friend Grant Price are coming to an end.

"We started playing in tournaments together at 5 years old," Butler said about Price. "We actually played in our first junior tournament here together. We've known each other for a long time and are lifelong friends. It's nice to be able to stay friends with someone for that long. We have a good friendship."

Price, a former University of South Alabama and Murray State golfer, was happy he's getting the chance to play with his best bud one last time.

"Adam is turning pro after this and it's fitting we're playing together this one last time, because we played in our first tournament together," Price said. "To be with him on the course one last time while he's an amateur is neat."

And the tournament is not just for the old guys. Dalton Bagwell, 14, soon to be a freshman at McCracken County, did his best to stay with men well over twice his age and finished with a 10-over 82 in the second flight.

The youngest golfer in the tournament admitted he was intimidated early on, but he's gaining valuable experience this weekend.

"I'm learning to take my time," Bagwell said. "I've had problems rushing my putts and rushing all over the course. I've gotten tips today about keeping my head down and taking my time. When I've done that, I've done better."

Even though Bagwell is younger, he expressed the same thing most of the golfers felt would be the key to doing well in today's final round.

"If you putt well, you'll do well in this tournament," he said.

Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.

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