Mid-South junior golfers highlight the talent pipeline at “The Bubba”

Just a week after the FedEx St. Jude classic, some mid-south junior golfers showed what was about to emerge from the younger talent pipeline.

Toby Wilson stands with Larry Conlee, father of Larry "Bubba" Conlee Jr., for whom the classic was named.

Toby Wilson stands with Larry Conlee, father of Larry "Bubba" Conlee Jr., for whom the classic was named.

Hand-selected players teed off at the National Bubba Conlee Jr. Invitational at Quail Ridge Golf Course in Bartlett. At the end of the three day tournament, Braden Thornberry, a junior from Olive Branch, Miss., finished 1st at -2 under par for a total score of 208 (71,67,70).

Other top area players in the boy’s field include Bartlett junior Clayton Gregory who started the third round at +2 but lost his lead on the back nine to finish the tournament tied at 26th with +9 over par (72, 70, 77).

Newcomer Toby Wilson, a freshman from Bartlett, played his first high school level tournament with focused excitement. He made a nice recovery from two double bogeys on day three to finish the tournament tied for 39th, +12 over par (73, 74, 75).

Rachel Dai, a Junior from Milton, Ga., took home first in the girls field at -5 under par, 211 (72, 70, 69).

Seniors Elizabeth England of Oakland tied for 32nd, 242 (78, 82, 82) and Lauren Wade of Eads tied for 37th with 244 (84, 83, 77).

The junior players were chosen from more than 300 of the world’s best 18-and-under golfers. A few traveled from as far away as Canada, Thailand and Brazil. The 33 year-old event is held annually in honor of Germantown High School golfer, James Larry “Bubba” Conlee Jr., who was killed in 1980 when a train struck his vehicle on the way home from shooting his best round of golf. The event has raised close to $50,000 for St. Jude Children’s research hospital with its Birdies for St. Jude Program. This year, the total raised was $12,703. Freshmen Riley Rennell of Columbia topped the girl’s field for donations by raising $1,750. Bryce Gorrell from Tiffin, Ohio, raised the most overall birdies for St. Jude at $2,160

In addition to raising funds for a worthy cause, the tournament has become a premier recruiting showcase, with this year’s tournament hosting more than 40 college coaches from around the country, including University of Memphis, University of Mississippi, University of North Carolina, Louisiana State University, Miami University of Ohio and Rice University.