Knowledge will help Lessley in Farm Bureau

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 15, 2001

Two golfers should consider themselves lucky to play with Jay Lessley at the practice round for the Farm Bureau Invitational at Beau Pr\u00E9 Country Club on Thursday.

Those golfers will no doubt be confident in their abilities to play at the course. But Lessley holds the upper hand: he’s from Natchez and has played the course nearly every day for the past two weeks, shooting under par for every round he’s played during that time.

&uot;I guess being local I’ve got a little bit better chance than others,&uot; said Lessley, a Beau Pr\u00E9 member since it opened.

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And those golfers will want to keep a careful eye on Lessley when he putts the ball. Beau Pr\u00E9 greens are tough to read, with their tricky breaks and quick pace.

&uot;That’ll be my strong suit, from being a local: knowing the greens,&uot; Lessley said. &uot;That’s where I might have an advantage.&uot;

Lessley, who played collegiate golf at Alabama and Delta State isn’t a stranger to tournament play in Mississippi. He’s played in 10 Mississippi Opens (that’s the former name of the FBI) since 1983. He once led one Open after the first round. But he’s played in them sparingly over the years. Lessley has played in the Mississippi Amateur the past five years, taking 29th place out of 164 golfers in last year’s tourney.

Lessley said that the key to the staying competitive in the FBI is getting out to a good start.

&uot;Starting is the big thing. If you get a good start, you can have a decent round,&uot; he said. Lessley added that shooting a round of three-under par every day on the par-72 course should put most golfers in contention.

But the course won’t play as easy as it may play when Lessley is playing the course as a Beau Pr\u00E9 member. The Gulf States Professional Golf Association, which administers the event, demands that the course be set up as difficult as possible, with the greens faster, fairway rough higher and the pin placements harder than usual.

As a result, Lessley said he will keep things simple. &uot;Don’t play aggressive. Let the course come to you.&uot;

Lessley remains confident he will play well, despite the course difficulty. &uot;I just hope to play as well as I’ve been playing,&uot; he said. &uot;If I play well in the first round, I’ll be in good shape.&uot;