Elliott hopes past success on Coast leads to MGRC run

John Elliott
John Elliott

With one professional win on the Coast already under his belt, John Elliott will join the field at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic on Friday hoping Tuesday’s nice showing at the Diamondhead Country Club will put him in the hunt at Fallen Oak.

Elliott finished atop the leader board Tuesday in the qualifier for the MGRC, a PGA Tour Champions event set for Friday-Sunday at Fallen Oak in Saucier. The Atlantis, Florida, resident shot a 7-under 65 on Tuesday to claim one of the four qualifying bids.

He’s hoping that some of his past success in the area will lead to good karma on the course this weekend. One of Elliott’s two wins on the Nike Tour in the 1990’s came at the 1994 Nike Mississippi Gulf Coast Classic at Windance Country Club in Gulfport.

“That was a long time ago,” Elliott said with a slight smile

Elliott, 53, shot a 33 on his first nine holes and followed that up with a 32 on the back nine.

“My game is good if I putt good,” Elliott said Tuesday. “I missed a short putt on two and three-putted on three. I missed a couple of putts early and then I started making putts. I made nine birdies and two bogies.

Elliott, who has five career professional wins, has worked recently as a caddy in Rhode Island and Florida.

“I don’t really play golf. I work on a golf course as a caddy every day and I just come out for a day, practice and see what happens,” Elliott said. “It’s a good day.”

The three other qualifiers on Tuesday were Lance Ten Broeck (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida), John Riegger (Henderson, Nevada) and Kirk Hanefield (South Hamilton, Massachusetts).

Hanefield was the first man in the clubhouse with a 69. He finished tied for fourth with Ted Tryba, but Hanefield managed to come out on top in the playoff to earn the final spot in the MGRC field.

Ten Broeck, a friend of Elliott, finished in second place with a 66.

“I putted pretty good, made a couple of long putts,” Ten Broeck said. “I kept the ball in the fairway and that’s what you have to do out here. The greens are in great shape. I got lucky, made a few putts and made only one mistake.”

Ten Broeck also owns a professional win in Mississippi after claiming the 1984 Magnolia State Classic, which is now the Sanderson Farms Classic in Jackson, at the Hattiesburg Country Club.

Tuesday’s third-place finisher, Riegger, started out hot with a 32 on the first nine holes and finished with a 35 down the stretch.

Riegger has a pair of Nationwide Tour wins in his career — the 2007 LaSalle Bank Open and the 2010 Rex Hospital Open.

If you go

What: Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic

When: Friday-Sunday

Where: Fallen Oak, Saucier