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Ryan Blaum wins Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic, Sanderson Farms Championship exemption

Natchez, Miss. – (July 14, 2013) – With his win in the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic on Sunday afternoon, Ryan Blaum joined PGA TOUR winners Zach Johnson and Craig Perks in a tie for sixth place on the NGA Pro Golf Tour’s all-time win list.

Now, thanks to a partnership between the NGA TOUR and the Sanderson Farms Championship, Blaum will get a shot to join Johnson and Perks as a PGA TOUR winner in next week’s event in Madison, Miss.

Blaum carded rounds of 63-72-65-67 for a 21-under 267 total at Beau Pre Country Club, cruised to a four-shot win over Derek Rende, pocketed $19,000 and earned an event exemption into the Sanderson Farms Championship on the PGA TOUR.

“This is definitely one of my most memorable wins on the NGA TOUR,” said Blaum of Coral Gables, Fla. “I have to thank the NGA TOUR for grabbing these exemptions. It’s a really big deal for the players. All of us out here want to be on the PGA TOUR.”

If Blaum can bottle his performance from this week, the Duke alumnus has a good opportunity to stay on the top tour. Over 72 holes, the former Blue Devil carded 22 birdies and one bogey. In addition, Blaum set the course record with a 9-under 63 in the first round.

“I’ve been playing really well the last couple of months,” said Blaum, a two-time ACC Player of the Year. “I can’t think of a time when I only had one bogey over 72 holes. I played really solid. I putted well, drove the ball well and hit my irons solid. I didn’t do anything amazing this week, but I didn’t do anything poorly. It was a good, solid week.”

Rende of Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., also had a solid week. The former UT-Chattanooga standout held the lead after 36 holes and was tied with Blaum going into the final round. Unfortunately for the Mocs alumnus, a final-round 71 left him in solo second at 17-under par.

“Everything today was kind of a struggle,” said Rende, who posted rounds of 67-67-66-71. “I didn’t hit it close enough. I made a bunch of two-putts and a bunch of pars, but I never really got it going.”

Rende’s final par of the day came on No. 18 – and it was good enough to secure a career best finish and the event exemption into the News Sentinel Open in Knoxville, Tenn., on the Web.com Tour.

After his second shot into the par-5 finishing hole found the bunker, Rende reached the putting surface with his third shot and safely two-putted to claim a spot in the Web.com Tour event in his home state.

“I wanted to win and I didn’t come out tentative, but Ryan played great,” said Rende, who earned $9,860. “I was hoping to play in the Sanderson, but playing in Knoxville is going to be a lot of fun. It’s close to home and I’m looking forward to it. I played in a Web.com Tour event earlier this year, and I wouldn’t be going out there if I wasn’t going for the win. Guys out here can play at that level; it’s not much different. It’s going to be a great opportunity.”

There was a group of golfers right behind Rende looking for the opportunity as well. Will McCurdy (65), Rhein Gibson (65), Chase Seiffert (70) and three-time Web.com Tour winner Kyle Thompson (69) finished T3 at 16-under par, one shot shy of forcing a playoff for the exemption.

While he wasn’t around for the finish, Justin Lower left Natchez with an event exemption into the Reno-Tahoe Open on the PGA TOUR. Despite missing the cut, Lower was still atop the season-long money standings on the NGA TOUR following the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic and received the NGA TOUR’s event exemption into the Reno-Tahoe Open. Lower will make his PGA TOUR debut later this season.

Former Big Break cast members Jay Woodson and Rick Cochran III finished T7 at 15-under par. Woodson posted a 4-under 68 in the final round, while Cochran carded a 3-under 69 on Sunday.

Big Break Greenbrier winner Mark Silvers shot a 6-under 66 in the final round to move into a tie for ninth with Chad Ginn (70) at 14-under par. Patton Kizzire (69) finished 11th at 13-under par, while Kent Bulle (66) and Blake Trimble (68) tied for 12th at 11-under par.

For full-field scores, click here

The NGA TOUR would like to thank all the sponsors, staff and volunteers at Beau Pre Country Club for making the inaugural event a resounding success. The NGA TOUR will return to action at Rock Barn Golf and Spa in Conover, N.C., on August 4-11.

Third Round Update: Derek Rende, Ryan Blaum share Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic lead

Natchez, Miss. – (July 13, 2013) – Ryan Blaum has teed it up on the PGA TOUR and won three times on the NGA TOUR. Derek Rende has done neither, but that could all change on Sunday afternoon.

Rende from Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday to join Blaum atop the leaderboard of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic at 16-under par. The winner of the inaugural NGA TOUR event at Beau Pre Country Club will earn an event exemption into the Sanderson Farms Championship on the PGA TOUR, while the runner-up will earn a spot in the News Sentinel Open on the Web.com Tour.

“They’re both good options, but I’m going to go for the win tomorrow,” said Rende. “My game is progressing in the right direction and I’m excited about my chances. It’s going to be fun tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”

Rende’s optimism comes with good reason. The UT-Chattanooga alumnus started the day with a one-shot lead and carded a 5-under 31 on the outward nine to fend off Blaum, who also posted a 31 on the front. Rende birdied Nos. 10 and 11 to start the back and moved out to a two-stroke lead, but a double bogey on No. 14 left him tied atop the leaderboard.

Blaum, a Duke alumnus from Coral Gables, Fla., briefly took the outright lead with a birdie on No. 18, but Rende was able to get up-and-down for birdie from the greenside bunker to reclaim a share of the top spot.

While Rende had to overcome a scorecard blemish to shoot 66, Blaum had no such trouble in the third round. After setting the course record with a 63 in the first round, Blaum again appeared to be in total control of his game in the third round, shooting a bogey-free 65. The three-time NGA TOUR winner has only made one bogey through 54 holes.

“I was just hoping today that I could get back to the way I played the first round,” said Blaum, who has five PGA TOUR starts. “I got a lot of good rest last night and tried to come out here and do the things I did the first 18 holes. I’m going to come out tomorrow and play my game. I’m going to keep my head down and keep plugging along. I can’t control what anyone else does, so I going to take what the course will give me and play smart.”

Chase Seiffert, a former Florida State standout from Panama City, Fla., will join Blaum and Rende in the final group on Sunday. Seiffert matched Blaum for the low round of the day with a 7-under 65 on Saturday to move into solo third at 14-under par.

Three-time Web.com Tour winner Kyle Thompson posted his second 68 in as many days to move into fourth place at 13-under par. Thompson, a University of South Carolina alumnus from Greenville, S.C., posted six birdies and two bogeys in the third round.

Chad Ginn (66) and Rick Cochran III (67) will start the final round tied for fifth at 12-under par, while Jay Woodson (68) and Zack Fischer (70) begin Sunday in a tie for seventh at 11-under par.

Jason Millard (71) and Patton Kizzire (70) finished the day T9 at 10-under par. Rhein Gibson (69), Will McCurdy (69) and Chris Wolfe (69) will start the final round in a tie for 11th at 9-under par.

For full-field scores, click here.

The final round of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic will start at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. As always, admission is free to the public.

Friday Update: Four-way tie atop Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic leaderboard

Natchez, Miss. – (July 12, 2013) – With event exemptions into the Sanderson Farms Championship on the PGA TOUR and the Knoxville News Sentinel Open on the Web.com Tour up for grabs in the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic, the inaugural NGA TOUR event at Beau Pre Country Club was already teeming with excitement.

But with a logjam atop the leaderboard after Friday, the exhilaration is sure to build on the weekend. Ryan Blaum, Zack Fischer, Jason Millard and Kyle Thompson were 9-under par and tied for the lead when play was suspended due to darkness on Friday evening.

Blaum, a Duke University alumnus from Coral Gables, Fla., finished his first round early Friday in grand fashion, shooting a course-record 63. While the three-time NGA TOUR winner was unable to keep the torrid pace in the second round, his even-par 72 gave the former Blue Devil a share of the lead.

“(In the first round,) a little bit of everything went right,” said Blaum, who has 10 birdies and one bogey through two rounds. “I hit the ball great. I hit the ball in close. I shot 31 on the first nine and it felt easy. I definitely made some putts that you’re not supposed to make on the backside, but I played solid. I was definitely a little tired in the second round and the pins were a little bit tougher. I didn’t hit the ball as close, but I played well overall.”

Of the four leaders, Jason Millard carded the lowest second round. After posting a 4-under 68 in the first round, the Middle Tennessee State alumnus from Murfreesboro, Tenn., fired a 5-under 67 on Friday. Millard also has 10 birdies and one bogey after 36 holes.

Thompson, a three-time Web.com Tour winner from Greenville, S.C., posted a 5-under 67 in the first round and followed it up with a 4-under 68 in the second round. The University of South Carolina alumnus has 11 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds.

After shooting a 6-under 66 in the opening round, Fischer, a University of Texas – Arlington alumnus from Wake Village, Texas, posted a 3-under 69 in the second round to make it a foursome atop the leaderboard. Fischer, who has four PGA TOUR starts this season, has nine birdies, two bogeys and an eagle after 36 holes.

Patton Kizzire of St. Simons Island, Ga., was close to making it a five-way tie for the lead, but a couple of wayward shots down the stretch left the Auburn alumnus one shot behind the leaders at 8-under par. Kizzire, who bogeyed two of his final three holes, shot a 2-under 70 in the second round and was solo second at the conclusion of play.

James White (69), Roberto Diaz (69), Brendon Ehlers (70), Chad Ginn (69), Nicholas Wilson (71), Casey Hamm (70), Rhein Gibson (70) and Will McCurdy (67) were T6 at 6-under par when the horn sounded.

Joseph Kinney (71), Kyle Morris (68) and Joseph Ida (70) were T15 at 5-under par at day’s end. Jay Woodson and Derek Rende were still on the course when play was halted, but their 5-under 67s in the first round left them tied for 15th.

For full-field scores, click here.

The second round of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic will resume at 8 a.m. on Saturday and the third round will follow immediately afterward. As always, admission is free to the public.

Round 1 Update: Ryan Blaum leads Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic

Natchez, Miss. – (July 12, 2013) – Ryan Blaum set the new course record with a 9-under 63 in the first round of the Magnolia Bluff Casino Classic and started the second round with a three-shot lead over Patton Kizzire, Rhein Gibson and Zack Fischer.

Blaum, a former Duke Blue Devil from Coral Gables, Fla., went bogey-free in the opening round of the event, rolled in nine birdies and bested the previous course record by two strokes. Blaum is a three-time NGA TOUR winner.

Fischer, who has four PGA TOUR starts this season, joined Kizzire and Gibson in a tie for second after posting a 6-under 66 in the rain-delayed first round. The University of Texas – Arlington alumnus from Wake Village, Texas, carded four birdies and one eagle in the first round.

The winner of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic will earn an event exemption into the Sanderson Farms Championship PGA TOUR event next week in Madison, Miss., while the runner-up will be competing in the Web.com Tour’s Knoxville News Sentinel Open in August. In addition, the season-long money winner on the NGA TOUR following the Magnolia Bluff Casino Classic will earn an exemption into the Reno-Tahoe Open on the PGA TOUR in August.

The second round started at 11: 20 a.m. and the afternoon wave will begin at 3:30 p.m.

For full-field scores, click here.

Thursday Update: Patton Kizzire, Rhein Gibson share clubhouse lead in Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic

Natchez, Miss. – (July 11, 2013) – Patton Kizzire and Rhein Gibson carded 6-under 66s in the first round of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic at Beau Pre Country Club on Thursday and held the clubhouse lead when play was suspended due to inclement weather.

Kizzire, an Auburn alumnus out of St. Simons Island, Ga., birdied four of his first six holes to start the day and added three more birdies against one bogey coming to the clubhouse en route to a share of the lead.

“It was a good round,” said Kizzire, won the SEC individual title in 2007. “I played solid all day, knocked it close and gave myself some opportunities to make birdies. It’s always good to get off to a good start. There are a lot of birdies out there, so it’s good to get some early and hopefully keep it going.”

Gibson, a former Oklahoma Christian standout from Edmond, Okla., went bogey-free in the first round and birdied two of his last five holes to join Kizzire at 6-under par. Gibson, who won earlier this season on the NGA TOUR, bettered his lowest first-round score of the season by three shots on Thursday.

Jay Woodson and Derek Rende also posted their best opening rounds of the season on Thursday, shooting 5-under 67s. Woodson, a Big Break Mexico competitor from Richmond, Va., carded seven birdies and two bogeys, while Rende, a UT-Chattanooga alum from Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., posted four birdies, one eagle and one bogey in the first round.

Big Break Greenbrier winner Mark Silvers got off to a torrid start with a front-side 31, but the University of South Carolina alum from Savannah, Ga., shot 1-over par on the backside to finish the day T5 at 4-under par. Luke Hart of Blythewood, S.C., and Mark Walker of Hurst, Texas, also recorded 4-under 68s on Thursday.

Joseph Ida, Rick Cochran III, Danny Evelyn, Clayton Rotz and Derek Plucienski opened with 3-under 69s and finished the day tied for eighth, while Kent Bulle, Sam Ryder, Hudson Johnson, Brian Richey, Clayton Rask, David Holmes and last week’s winner Blake Trimble were T13 at the conclusion of play after posting 2-under 70s in the first round.

The winner of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic will earn an event exemption into the Sanderson Farms Championship PGA TOUR event next week in Madison, Miss., while the runner-up will be competing in the Web.com Tour’s Knoxville News Sentinel Open in August. In addition, the season-long money winner on the NGA TOUR following the Magnolia Bluff Casino Classic will earn an exemption into the Reno-Tahoe Open on the PGA TOUR in August.


For full-field scores, click here.

The first round of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic will restart at 8 a.m. on Friday. The second round is scheduled to start at approximately 11 a.m. As always admission is free to the public.

Preview: Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic champion, runner-up to play at next level

Natchez, Miss. – July 9, 2013 – The goal of the NGA TOUR is to prepare players to play at the next level. The dream of every player is to make it there. This week at Beau Pre Country Club those dreams will become a reality for three competitors in the 2013 Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic.

The winner of the inaugural event will earn an event exemption into the Sanderson Farms Championship PGA TOUR event next week in Jackson, Miss., while the runner-up will be competing in the Web.com Tour’s News Sentinel Open in August. In addition, the leading money winner on the NGA TOUR following the Magnolia Bluff Casino Classic will earn an exemption into the Reno-Tahoe Open on the PGA TOUR in August.

With so much on the line, many of the heavy hitters on the NGA TOUR have turned out, hoping to earn spots on the PGA and Web.com Tours in the coming weeks. All told, 20 NGA TOUR winners and 10 of the top 20 on the money list are in the Magnolia Bluff Casino Classic field.

With a decent showing this week, current NGA TOUR money leader Justin Lower will earn the Reno-Tahoe Open event exemption. The former Malone University standout from Canal Fulton, Ohio, has amassed two wins and over $75,000 this season on the NGA TOUR. If Lower can capture the exemption, there may not be a dry eye in Natchez on Sunday.

Days before his 16th birthday in 2005, Lower was practicing at his local course, awaiting his father, Tim, to pick him up. However, Lower’s father got into a single-car accident that killed both him and Justin’s younger brother, Chris.

After the tragedy, Lower went on to win an individual NAIA National Championship, was named the NAIA Jack Nicklaus Award winner, was a four-time NAIA All-American and won the 2011 David Toms Award in college before joining the NGA TOUR. His ball still carries 3-26-05, the day of the accident, and he’s one event away from the realization of a lifelong dream.

“Everyone out here wants to play on the PGA TOUR,” said Lower. “It’s great that the NGA TOUR gives us these opportunities to win exemptions. I’m trying not to think about it and focus on this week, but I know it’s out there.”

With the Sanderson Farms Championship exemption on the line as well, Lower has good reason to focus on this week. His third win of the season would guarantee the former Pioneer two PGA TOUR starts over the remainder of the season.

In addition to Lower, 2013 NGA TOUR winners Brandon Brown, Rhein Gibson, M.J. Daffue Ken Looper, Clayton Rask and Blake Trimble will be in the field this week, looking to become two-time winners in 2013. Brown and Trimble can also earn their second exemptions of the season with a top-two finish this week.

Brown, the 2012 NGA TOUR Player of the Year, earned an event exemption into the Air Capital Classic on the Web.com Tour earlier this season, while Trimble claimed the Price Cutter Charity Championship event exemption with his victory in the Florida Marine Open last week at Beau Chene Country Club in Mandeville, La.

The Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic will also feature NGA TOUR winners Travis Bertoni, Ryan Blaum, Anthony Broussard, Rick Cochran III, Jeff Corr, Kyle Ellis, Hudson Johnson, Grant Leaver, Major Manning, Jonathan Randolph, Jay Woodson and Mark Silvers.

Since the start of the 2010 season, the NGA TOUR has secured 25 Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR event exemptions for its players, far exceeding the totals of any developmental golf tour in the country. 

The first round of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic will start at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday. As always, admission is free to the public.

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