Tony Shell, Scott Rhodes go wire-to-wire at the 2024 Bill Cass Senior Four Ball

Tony Shell, Scott Rhodes go wire-to-wire at the 2024 Bill Cass Senior Four Ball

March 24, 2024

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Former Bill Cass Senior Four Ball champions Tony Shell and Scott Rhodes went into Sunday’s final round at Hattiesburg Country Club five shots ahead of their nearest competitors. As anyone who has spent even a moment in competitive golf can tell you, the hardest thing to do when leading a tournament, is closing it out.

Shell and Rhodes spent much of their front nine nursing their lead, but knowing that there were teams in the groups ahead of them closing in.

“You got to like that position [having a five-shot lead],” Shell told the MGA. “But you’ve got to get it in the hole. We didn’t really struggle the first two days… we struggled today and withstood it.”

Carding their first birdie of the day on the par 5 9th, the duo knew they had to lock in if they wanted a shot at going wire-to-wire and earning their second title. Backing their birdie on No. 9 with another on the par 4 10th, the longtime friends teamed up to knock in birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 17, giving themselves a 2-shot lead as they headed to the final hole of the championship.

While Shell and Rhodes knew what they were to expect on Sunday, they didn’t know who to expect the Sunday roars to come from. That honor would go to George Byrd and Ryan Mitchell.

As one of two teams five back from the lead, the pair were ready to give chase and apply pressure as the penultimate group. Byrd and Mitchell were on what can only be called a ‘heater’, making birdies on four of their first eight holes before closing out a front nine 30 with an eagle on No. 9.

Losing a touch of steam on the back side, Byrd and Mitchell went on to post a final round 7 under, 65. In the clubhouse at 19 under, all they could do was sit and wait on the patio that overlooks the 18th green at Hattiesburg Country Club.

Unsure of what they needed to clear Byrd and Mitchell, the pressure was on for Shell and Rhodes.

Flaring his tee shot right, Shell had 189 yards into the green from a slight uphill, pine straw lie.  Pulling one of his two trusted hybrids, Shell carried the water to perfection, left of the front right pin and used the slope to nestle his ball back within 12 feet of the hole.

With one ball safe, Shell and Rhodes could breathe a sigh of relief. Both players made par on 18 to close out the wire-to-wire victory and their second title since 2021. The win couldn’t have come at a much better venue for Rhodes. 

“It’s one of my courses in the state,” he said. “I love it. They do such a great job out here.”

The MGA championship schedule picks back up in May for the Bryan Cup Club Team Championship at Old Waverly and Mossy Oak May 18-19 in West Point, MS. Registration can be found here (Registration closes May 10th).