By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Nick Armstrong, Scotty Patterson and Rickey Riley have all experienced disappointment in the Butch Lambert Invitational.
Maybe that will change today for one of them.
Armstrong, Patterson and Riley all recorded scores of 3-under-par 69 Saturday to tie for the first-round lead in the 28th annual golf tournament at the Natchez Trace Golf Club. Shannon’s Bill Collins is two shots back at 2-under 71.
Baldwyn’s Armstrong, 28, who finished second in 2007, expects the course to play a lot tougher for today’s final round.
“If they back up the tees and put the pins in tough places, the scores will go up,” said Armstrong, who recorded five birdies, including a 6-footer on 18 to grab a share of the lead. “It’s usually a little harder the second day.”
Natchez Trace professional, Lan Gooch, a four-time Butch Lambert champion, says Armstrong, a former Baldwyn High and Northeast player, is correct about the course being tougher.
“We’re going to back up the championship and first flights,” said Gooch, who beat Armstrong in ’07. “It’s going to be tougher for them.”
Fulton’s Riley and Pontotoc’s Patterson played in the final foursome last year and eventually lost to Gooch.
Riley, 48, shot a first-day a 4-under 68 to take last year’s first-round lead. He closed his opening round this year five birdies on the back nine.
“I played well on the back and actually made some putts,” Riley said, then laughed. “I hit the ball well today. I just got myself in some trouble on the front.
“The course is in great shape. I expect it to play tough (today).”
Patterson, 28, played in the morning round Saturday and birdied five of his first 10 holes. He eagled the par 5, No. 14 hole when he hit a wedge shot within two feet of the cup.
“I putted well today, even though I missed two short par putts coming in,” said the former Pontotoc High and ICC golfer. “The greens were fast and firm. I tried to keep it below the hole most of the day.”
Fulton’s Ken Hogue, 69, playing in the super seniors division, posted the day’s lowest round with a 5-under 67.
Hogue birdied five holes, eagled 14 with a 20-foot putt, but he also had his troubles. He three-putted on 11 and closed with a bogey on 18.
“That’s a pretty good score,” Hogue said, then smiled. “I putted super today. I was making putts from everywhere.”