Butch Lambert will crown new champion

SALTILLO – Mark Enis hasn’t won the Butch Lambert Invitational since 2004, when he captured his third consecutive victory in the 36-hole, stroke-play golf tournament.
Tupelo High School’s golf coach doesn’t expect any changes in his win status when the 26th annual event is played Saturday and Sunday at the Natchez Trace Golf Club.
“Back when I was winning it, I was playing golf four days a week,” he said. “That’s no excuse, but I just haven’t had the time to put the work in.
“My game’s not sharp.”
Enis actually entered last year’s final round four shots behind the leader, Natchez Trace professional Lan Gooch, but struggled with an 82.
Gooch, who has won three straight Butch Lambert championships, including last year’s, said Wednesday he has decided not play this weekend.
“We’re working on getting this tournament sanctioned next year by the MGA (Mississippi Golf Association),” he said. “I want to make sure everything is as good as it can be. I decided to put a little more focus on running the tournament instead of playing in it.”
Despite his absence, Gooch believes this weekend’s field is as strong as ever.
“We’ve got a lot of really good, strong players,” he said. “I think we’ve got 15 to 20 golfers with a chance to win.”
Enis and Trey Trapp, who finished second to Gooch last year, are two of seven players who were in the 2009 championship flight signed up to play this weekend. They will be joined by Victor Suggs, Jack Dilworth, John Wilson, Scott Maxey and Bo Reed.
Trapp had the shot of the tournament’s final round last year when he eagled the par 4, 373-yard No. 3 hole with an 80-yard wedge shot.
“My game’s starting to take form,” Trapp said. “I’m hoping I can put a couple of good rounds together.”
The course, Trapp notes, is in great shape for the tournament, thanks to the efforts of new course superintendent Matt Rollins and his staff.
“It’s in as good a shape as it’s been,” Trapp said. “They’ve done a great job with it. The greens are not extremely fast, but I’m hearing they will be cut down for the weekend.”

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal