Harrell starts title pursuit with opening 68 in City tournament

Aaron Harrell cracks a tee shot during the opening round of the Bedford Men’s City Tournament at Otis Park. Harrell started the pursuit of his fifth title with a 4-under 68 on Saturday morning.

By Justin Sokeland


BEDFORD – The less he plays, the better Aaron Harrell scores. That’s exactly contradictory to the accepted norm of practicing to make perfect, yet here he is, on top of the Bedford Men’s City Tournament leaderboard once again.

Four-time champion Aaron Harrell, already on a short, impressive list of multiple winners, fired a 4-under 68 to take the first-round lead on Saturday at Otis Park. His advantage is tenuous at best, with former Bedford North Lawrence standout Trevin Hutchinson and defending champion Korey Smith lurking just off the pace in the 72-hole test of stamina and nerves.

Harrell, playing only his fourth round of the year, carded six birdies to set a low-scoring tone. Hutchinson matched that red-number total on his scorecard to settle one shot back with a 69, while Smith got hot on the back nine with four straight birdies to highlight his 2-under 70. That’s quite a marquee trio of leaders as the field heads into the second round.

Seeking his first title since he won three straight (and shattered scoring records with historic performances) from 2018-20, Harrell charged off the first tee with a birdie on that hole, and he followed with birdies on 5, 6 and 9 to cap the front nine in 3-under 34. He added birdies on 11 and 13 before his last tee shot found bunker trouble for a closing bogey.

Former BNL standout Trevin Hutchinson posted a 3-under 69 in the first round.

Not a bad way to begin for a guy who was coaxed into playing by former BNL teammates Michael Lewis and Jansen Perdue, who are among the many to make the City a homecoming event. Harrell practiced on Wednesday to avoid any muscle-memory embarrassment, then went low with a shrug.

“I was not expecting this,” he said. “I have no expectations to do it again tomorrow. I didn’t get in any bad spots. I hit a bunch of fairways and greens, got lucky and made six birdies.

“This tournament always brings out the good in golf. This is what we grew up doing, and it’s a good time. And that’s all I want to to be. I don’t expect to win it.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hutchinson has made winning the City a priority. He’s a 2022 BNL grad who qualified for the IHSAA state finals as a junior, now competes for Oakland City, and recently qualified for the Indiana Open. He grew up watching the City drama unfold each summer, now he’s in the mix.

Defending City champion Korey Smith had four straight birdies on the back nine to card a 70.

“This is the one tournament I’ve always looked forward to playing,” Hutchinson said. “I would love to win it, that was my goal coming into it. Hopefully I can keep the rounds going.”

Hutchinson started strong with two birdies (2 and 4) on a flawless front, then carded four birdies on the back (11, 13, 16 and 17) to offset a few mistakes. Those were rare (bogeys on 12, 15 and 18) and were immediately followed by recovery birdies (until the finishing hole).

“I did well with keeping my cool, knowing I had plenty of holes ahead of me,” Hutchinson said. “The putter was working pretty well. I was feeling confident with my driver. I put myself in lot of good positions. I will try to put myself in the same positions tomorrow to drop some birdies, see where the round takes me.”

Smith opened his title defense with a back-nine birdie streak (holes 10-13) that got him into immediate contention. Colten Girgis, another BNL alum and left-hander, eagled the par-5 fifth to cap his opening 72.

The field will be flighted following the second round. The final two rounds are scheduled for July 13-14.

Colten Girgis eagled the fifth hole while firing an even-par 72.