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‘Smart golf’ nets club championship

Jimmy Clay admitted he didn’t play “smart golf” in the opening round of the Halifax Country Club championship, finishing the day tied with W.J. Long and one stroke ahead of David Meeks and Brad Mele.

Clay picked up the pace on Sunday and finished with a 69-66-135 to win his fifth straight club championship.

Meeks (70-72-142) finished seven strokes behind Clay and two strokes ahead of Jay Burnett 74-70-144 in the Championship Flight.

The par 70 Halifax Country Club played a little tougher than usual, according to Clay, but he added his aggressive style almost got him into trouble on the opening day.

“I played pretty well all weekend, but I didn’t play particularly smart,” added Clay, who came out and played aggressively again on Sunday, going four under par the first six holes.

“I just cruised and played smart from then on,” said Clay.

“The key to this golf course is play aggressive the first six holes and play smart.  I didn’t play very smart yesterday but did today.

“Yesterday, I got to the back nine and played stupid, did some dumb things and didn’t play smart golf.

“Today, it was smart golf. When I teed off, I had an objective, the play the first six or seven holes aggressive, and I did.”

Both Clay and Meeks birdied the first hole on Sunday, but Clay pulled away after that.

“l hit a real good shot on two and birdied two.  I birdied five and six and separated myself a little bit from W.J., David and Brad,” said Clay.

“I made two bogies today, one I deserved and one I didn’t, but I played pretty smart.”

Clay was the only player to break par both days, adding he thought 69 and 66 was a good score.

“I got myself in position to win, and I made them go away from me,” Clay explained.  “I hit the greens and made birdies when I needed to make birdies.

“This one was close, and yesterday the course played short and today a little longer which played to my advantage.

“They hung in there with me until about six or seven and put some pressure on me.”

Clay’s early surge on Sunday proved too much for him to overcome, according to Meeks.

“I tried to put the heat on him early and was playing pretty good, but he just makes so many birdies, it’s tough,” commented Meeks.

“After yesterday, I was only one shot back.  Today, after number six I think he was four under and I was one under.

“He played smart, and he hit a lot of greens.  The first six holes are where it’s at, you just hold on for the rest of the day, and that’s what Jimmy does,” Meeks added.

“I played one or two over the rest of the day (Sunday) and we were close seven through 18, but the first six holes were the difference.”

“He’s not perfect, but he’s pretty daggone close,” admitted Meeks.

“He never hits the ball out of play and he stays in every hole, and you can’t just cruise around, you have to come after him and be aggressive.

“Get close to him and you have a chance, but if he gets a lead...”