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Published: Sunday, 8/3/2008

Virginia State golfer leads field at Detwiler

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Jerel Whiting wants to exact some revenge. Willie Mack would like to make it three in a row.

Meanwhile, Harold Varner hopes to cap a terrific summer with another tournament victory.

It should be a drama-filled final round today at Chuck Cohen's Toledo Minority Golf Association National Invitational.

Whiting, of Martinsville, Va., shot a 5-under 66 yesterday to take the lead in the 36-hole event held at Detwiler Golf Course. A runner-up last year, Whiting would like to turn the tables on the two-time defending champion Mack, who carded a 68. Mack bested Whiting by three strokes in 2007.

"Oh yeah," Whiting said when asked if revenge is on his mind. "It's always nice to win a golf tournament."

Orlando's Honesty Biggers shot a 70 to take the lead in the girls draw.

Varner, of Gastonia, N.C., fired a 69 to stay in contention as he attempts to win his second minority tournament of the summer.

He has won the last two Bill Dickey Invitationals held each June in Orlando.

"I left a few shots out there, but we'll get it [today]," said Varner, who will be a freshman at East Carolina. "I put myself in position and that's all I can ask for."

Chicago's JaMichael Jones (70) is lurking as are Al Jennings (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Dorian Vauls (Dayton), who each 71.

Thirty boys and 10 girls from around the country were chosen to play in the 17th annual invitational that permits players 20 years and younger. Whiting and Mack are veterans of the tournament while Varner is making his first trip to Toledo.

"There's very few of us," Varner said of minority golfers. "I'm very proud of this opportunity. I'm glad they gave it to us."

Whiting has been close but has never won this tournament in his seven years of playing.

He started off strong in his final year of eligibility, making eagle on the first hole, a par 5. Whiting birdied two other par 5s on the day.

"I hit the ball pretty long, so I was able to take advantage of the par 5s," said Whiting, a junior at Virginia State.

Mack, a junior at Bethune-Cookman, made birdie on all four par 5s but was concerned with the accuracy of his tee shots and doesn't expect to use his driver today.

"I just have to play a little steadier," said the Flint, Mich., native.

"You can take it really low on this course. It's not really hard, so I'll probably not hit driver [today]."

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com.



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