Freshman stands taller

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Jake Lambert of Jackson used his strong putting game to win the Mississippi Private School Association Overall Golf Tournament last spring as an eighth-grader at Jackson Academy.

After growing 4 inches to 5-foot-4, the 107-pounder is using an improved long game to win his last four tournaments, including the Gulf State Junior PGA Tour Thanksgiving Classic at Beau Pre Wednesday.

&uot;That threw me off a little bit,&uot; Lambert said of his growth spurt. &uot;I&160;would hit it good one day and terrible the next.&uot;

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He has certainly adjusted.

Lambert, 14, not only won his age division, but captured the overall tournament with a 143, including a first-round 68.

Lambert hit his tee shots on the green 17 of 18 times on Tuesday and 15 of 18 times Wednesday.

&uot;I’ve been able to hit the ball higher since I’ve gotten taller,&uot; he said. &uot;I always knew how to play, but could never hit it long. I just didn’t put together enough birdie putts today (Wednesday). But I hit the ball real good both days.&uot;

Lambert has never taken pro lessons, learning the game from his father, Jim Lambert.

&uot;My dad played when I was little and he took me with him,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;I really enjoyed it. I used to play baseball and basketball when I was younger, but quit both to play more golf.&uot;

Lambert started playing in tournaments at the age of 9.

&uot;When I got to be about 11 or 12 I felt like I had really improved,&uot; he said. &uot;Last year my ball striking improved even more.&uot;

Lambert showed remarkable composure on the course, staying calm under his red University of Georgia cap.

&uot;I&160;play a tournament at Georgia every October,&uot; he said. &uot;I&160;know the coach and it really like it there. They won the NCAA championship last year and they redshirted the No. 1 junior play in the nation. I wouldn’t mind playing there one day, but there are a couple of other schools I like, too.&uot;

Lambert plans to work hard during the offseason and get stronger

As for any talk of being the next Tiger Woods, Lambert just flashes a modest smile.

&uot;I actually like Justin Leonard because his game is not very long,&uot; he said. &uot;And I like the way Fred Couples is always relaxed. That’s what I try to strive for, just let everything flow the way it’s going.&uot;

Lambert’s triumphant stay in Natchez was his first ever trip to the River City.

&uot;I really like Natchez,&uot; he said. &uot;And this is a great golf course. It’s really fun to play. It’s well designed.&uot;