By John L. Pitts
Pontotoc’s Scotty Patterson has a full plate these days, but he’s making time to defend his title at this weekend’s Butch Lambert Memorial Invitational golf tournament.
“I just signed up yesterday,” Patterson said Wednesday. “I’ve got a lot going on.”
The 30th renewal of the 36-hole stroke-play event begins Saturday morning at Natchez Trace Golf Club in Saltillo, and Patterson has some good reasons for feeling cautious about his golf game.
“It’s not where I’d like. We’ve got a baby due the first of August and with the weather being the way it’s been, I haven’t been able to play that much,” he said. “I’m hitting the ball better than I’d expect, but my short game isn’t where it needs to be.”
Last year, the 30-year-old Patterson won on the second hole of a playoff after finishing in a four-way tie. He could have won in regulation but accidently signed a scorecard with a double bogey 5 on Sunday’s No. 17, when he’d actually shot a bogey 4.
“It was a challenge to compose myself after that happened,” Patterson said. “I’ve got to give my wife credit for helping me get focused. She said, ‘Go finish what you started.’”
The four all tied at 2-over 146 on the 6,600-yard course.
Tupelo’s Mark Enis – a three-time Lambert winner – and Oxford’s Cameron Thomas bogeyed the first playoff hole. Patterson beat Saltillo’s Corbin May by parring the second playoff hole.
This year’s field will also include former winner Ricky Riley of Fulton, who beat Patterson on the first hole of a 2012 playoff after runner-up finishes of his own in 2009 and 2011.
Natchez Trace pro Lan Gooch, himself a four-time Lambert winner, expects another competitive event.
“The course is in good shape,” he said. “We’ve had tons of rain, of course, but it’s dried out over the last sevearl days. Barring more rain, it should play fairly firm.”
There’s a 30 percent chance of rain on both Saturday and Sunday.
Patterson expects a tough test. “I’ve been playing the Trace since I was in high school, and it’s a challenging as any course in the area. It confronts you with different lies and difficult angles.”
Gooch said he planned to work on Saturday’s tee times on Thursday night, “while I watch the Ole Miss game.”