Jack Gnam (L), tournament director Stewart Causey and runner-up Mitchell Ford (Adam Hunsicker/The News-Star photo)
By Adam Hunsucker of the Monroe News-Star
Golfers of all levels know that you may think you’re playing golf, but sometimes golf plays you instead.
Jack Gnam could relate early in Sunday’s championship round at the W.E. Cole Cotton States Invitational. It wasn’t that the Ole Miss golfer was playing bad overall, but inopportune gaffes had him trailing upstart Mitchell Ford by two strokes through 13 holes.
“I made a bad mistake there out of a bunker and gifted him a hole,” Gnam said. “From there on, I just decided I wasn’t going to lose this match.”
While keeping his cool mentally, Gnam’s game caught fire on holes 15 and 16. After sinking a putt on the 18th hole to force a sudden death playoff, Gnam outlasted Ford on the 20th hole to win the 2020 Cotton States championship at Bayou DeSiard Country Club.
“I’ve been involved in this tournament for 11 years and I’ve never seen a final match go extra holes,” Cotton States tournament director Stewart Causey said. “It was a great final match with lots of ups and downs and we had quite a crowd out here to watch it.”
Needing the putt on 18 to force a playoff, Gnam never considered an outcome other than winning the hole.
“I kind of had a good idea of the line and the only thing I was thinking of over the put was what I was going to do after it went it,” Gnam said. “You always say you expect it to go in, but it was a rush to have it go in.”
Ford, a Little Rock, Arkansas-native, started the tournament 23rd on the bracket and played his way into the championship match. He held a two-stroke lead coming off 10 and 13 and clung to a one-stroke advantage on 18.
“I was so grateful to Mr. Causey for letting me in the tournament,” Ford said. “I shouldn’t have been here or in the finals. I beat a lot of people that were better than me and I’m just extremely grateful to be here.”
Gnam credited his comeback to a pitching adjustment following a slow start.
“I just added about half a cup to my read and I did that the rest of the day,” Gnam said. “I hit maybe two bad shots, but I just wasn’t making putts and I knew I had to be patient and not let myself get mad.”
ABOUT THE Cotton States Amateur
Originally played in 1949 as the Bayou
DeSiard Labor Day Golf Tournament, the
name was changed to the Cotton States
Invitational in 1951 by the club's young head
professional, W. E. "Winnie" Cole. He felt that
name better reflected the main states that the
tournament's players originated from (and a
mid-summer made the name a necessity later
anyway). Little did Cole know that 27 years
1978, the event would be renamed again,
be known as the W. E. Cole Cotton States
Invitational Golf Tournament.
Past champions of this highly competitive, yet
tournament include Don January and Hal
Toms and many other PGA Tour players have
competed. The tournament field field is limited
having a verified USGA Handicap Index not
exceeding 0.0. Long a match play event, the
format was changed in 2021 to 72 holes of
View Complete Tournament Information