Beau Pré to host championship

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2001

Beau Pr\u00E9 officials announced on Saturday that the club will host Mississippi’s premier golf tournament this year.

Local PGA professional Mark Powell said Beau Pr\u00E9 will host the annual Mississippi Farm Bureau Invitational – an event that serves as Mississippi’s state championship each year.

The tournament, Powell said, brings together the the state’s PGA professionals, top amateurs, top junior players and amateur members of clubs that provide state PGA professionals. The three-day, stroke play, no cut tournament will be held at the Natchez site on July 20-22.

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&uot;This is the highest profile tournament in Mississippi,&uot; Powell said. &uot;The pros play the amateurs and there are no age restrictions.&uot;

Numerous businesses have announced cutbacks and closings in recent months as the economy has deteriorated on both national and local levels. Powell said the tournament will generate much needed business for local owners.

&uot;Between 250 and 300 people will be in Natchez for four or five days,&uot; he said. &uot;They’ll be eating here and staying in hotels. It’s going to be great for Natchez.

&uot;It’s a really high profile event, and Natchez will get a lot of media attention from the tournament.&uot;

And speaking of economics, the total purse for the event, which is sponsored by Cingular Wireless and a number of other companies, will top $32,000.

Professional golfers competing in the 27-year-old event will have their sights set on a $17,000 purse, while amateurs will compete for more than $14,000 in cash and prizes.

&uot;The members are excited about this tournament,&uot; Powell said. &uot;It’s the biggest tournament we’ve ever had around here.&uot;

Powell is among three local players scheduled to compete in the event. Marvin Gray, the PGA professional at Duncan Park Golf Club and P.Z. Brewer, a top 50 amateur and Beau Pr\u00E9’s club champion, will also compete in the event. In early June, invitations will be sent to all MPGA golf clubs to search for players. Any Beau Pr\u00E9 or Duncan Park Golf Club members who have an established USGA handicap are eligible to enter.

The field, however, will be limited to 160 players and the event’s entry fee has been set at $185, Powell said. Rob Autry won the 2000 Farm Bureau Invitational at Dancie Rabbit Golf Club in Philadelphia. He defeated Brandon’s Randy Smith and 1999 champion Rett Crowder, who also won the 1997 title at Laurel Country Club, in a one-hole sudden death playoff.