By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Scotty Patterson knows all about being in contention for the Butch Lambert Memorial Invitational championship.
The question is: Does he know how to win the 36-hole stroke-play tournament?
“I wish I did,” said Patterson, whose 3-under-par 69 has him atop the leaderboard headed into today’s final round of the 29th annual event at the Natchez Trace Golf Club. “That’s three years now I’ve played well on Saturday. I’ve got to figure out Sunday.”
The Pontotoc golfer led after the first round last year, only to lose in a playoff to Fulton’s Ricky Riley. In the 2011 tournament, he started in the final group, but lost to Natchez Trace professional Lan Gooch.
Oxford’s Cameron Thomas, a Delta State golfer, is one shot back at 70. Tupelo’s Nick Rainey and Ripley’s Reed Lindsey, another DSU golfer, are two shots back at 71. New Albany’s Michael Benjamin and Saltillo’s Adam Hall shot 72s.
Fulton seniors division player Ken Hogue, age 68, recorded a 69 shooting from the gold tees.
He will not compete in today’s championship flight.
Patterson shot a 2-under 34 on the front even with a three-putt bogey on No. 6. He opened hot on the back nine with a birdie on No. 10 and an eagle on No. 12.
“I holed out from about 40 yards out on the fairway,” he said. “The course is in great shape. The greens are playing well.”
Six birdies and an eagle helped Thomas overcome a round that included two double bogeys and three bogeys.
“If I can get rid of the doubles and bogeys, I would feel pretty good about my chances,” he said.
Chad Ramey, an All-SEC golfer from Mississippi State, is bunched in a group with Riley, the defending champ, and others at 73. He likes his chances in today’s final round, if he can make some adjustments in his short game.
“I’ve got a few things to work on this evening, mostly my chipping,” said the Fulton resident.
Riley, who recovered from a back-to-back bogey start, likes his position.
“I didn’t hit many good shots, so I’ll take a 73,” he said. “I’m not out of it. I’m four shots back and the course will play long (today).”