By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Bo Reed is no longer a collegiate golfer, but the Ole Miss student still enjoys competing on the links.
This weekend, he’ll defend his 2010 championship in the 27th annual Butch Lambert Invitational at the Natchez Trace Golf Club.
“I’m playing pretty well,” said Reed, the former Tupelo High and Meridian Community College golf standout. “I’ve been practicing and playing at the (Tupelo Country Club). I can tell I’m hitting the ball pretty well.”
The first round of the 36-hole, stroke-play tournament, which is sanctioned for the first time by the Mississippi Golf Association, is scheduled for Saturday. The final 18 holes will be played Sunday.
Reed’s strategy for this year’s tournament is fairly simple. “What I hope to do is put myself in contention after the first round,” he said.
Reed defeated David Griffin of Belden on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff last year.
Lan Gooch, the Natchez Trace professional, recalled Reed’s “wicked up and down” to survive the first hole of the playoff.
On the hole, Reed had to hit a wedge out of tall grass in the rough. The shot landed on the green, but about 30 feet from the hole.
“I just wanted the shot to be somewhere around the green,” Reed said. “I still had a long putt. Somehow, I got up and down.”
Reed rolled in 30-footer for a birdie to keep his playoff hopes alive. He eventually won on the third hole with a birdie.
“Winning the Butch Lambert was really special,” he said.
Gooch, a three-time Lambert champion (2007, ’08 and ’09), hasn’t decided if he’ll play. He’ll likely continue his role as host and director only.
However, this year’s field is loaded with contenders to rival Reed. Griffin returns, along with three-time champion Mark Enis, the THS golf coach and Golden Wave golfer Wilson Reeder, who was in second place last week at the Southern Junior.
“This could be our strongest field in recent memory,” Gooch said. “We’ve got a lot of solid players entered, players with a chance to win it.”
The par 72, 6,600-yard course is not a long one, but it tests players with its hills and doglegs. The greens could be anywhere from firm and fast to soft depending on the weather.
“It’s a ball-striker’s course,” Gooch said. “A guy comfortable with his swing will have an easier time. Ball placement is at a premium on this course.”
Players will be able to earn points in the MGA standings this week.
“The MGA’s sanctioning is a stepping stone,” Gooch said. “I think word will get around and players will want to come here. I look for the tournament to grow.”
The tournament is named in honor of former SEC football official A.C. “Butch” Lambert.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593