Feeling nervous on the golf course made Isaiah Jackson feel normal again.
A protracted, pandemic-induced layoff came to an end for the University of Memphis golfer this past weekend. Jackson, a Golden native, shot a 10-under par to win the Mississippi Amateur Championship, which wrapped up Sunday at Annandale Golf Club in Madison.
This was Jackson’s first competitive event since March 10, when COVID-19 cut the Memphis season short.
“It felt good to feel nerves again,” said Jackson, who played his high school golf at Red Bay. “I haven’t felt nerves in a long time. If you have nerves, that means you’re in a good spot.”
Jackson stayed in a good spot all weekend. He shot 69 in both the first and fourth rounds and 70 in each of the middle two rounds.
Entering the tournament, Jackson’s goal was to log four competitive rounds.
“There really wasn’t one thing that was just super on, it’s just my whole game was consistent,” he said. “I always try to put a lot of emphasis on my wedges, and I was hitting it close when I had a wedge in my hand, which was huge, especially at a golf course where if you have anything over a mid-iron, it’s hard to stop the ball. And I didn’t have any three-putts.”
Jackson won by four strokes over defending state am champion Joseph Deraney, of Belden, and 2018 champ Wilson Furr. Oxford’s C.J. Easley trailed Jackson by two strokes after three rounds, but he closed with a 74 to finish in a tie for fourth.
“There were several guys inside that top 10 that I knew were very capable of throwing up low numbers and catching up to me,” Jackson said. “I didn’t feel like I had to press. I just felt like I needed to keep doing what I’d been doing.”
The victory earns him a spot in the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship, which will be held Oct. 1-4 at the Country Club of Jackson. It will be Jackson’s PGA Tour debut.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be this close; just kind of snuck up on me,” he said. “That’ll be a special experience.”