‘This is our major’

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 16, 2001

&uot;This is our major.&uot; That’s what one past winner of one of Mississippi’s biggest and best golf tournaments said.

Anthony Price, a two-time winner of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Invitational, said the tournament that will be held at Natchez’s Beau Pr\u00E9 Country Club this weekend is the pinnacle of golf for Mississippi’s professional golfers..

&uot;The best of the best will be in this field,&uot; Price said. &uot;This is our major. We all want to play well.

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&uot;Everyone here is good. The entire field is good.&uot;

Price, who won the 1987 event at Deerfield Country Club in Jackson and the 1991 tournament at Pine Island Golf Club, said the event allows the state’s PGA professionals to compete against the state’s top amateurs.

The tournament will unofficially begin Thursday when 160-player field hit the par-72 course for a practice round.

&uot;We’re looking forward to coming in and playing this course and this tournament,&uot; Price said. &uot;It’s a big tournament held at the state’s top venues – no exceptions.&uot;

Price should know how much is riding on the Farm Bureau – he’s only missed one tournament (1985) over the past 20 years.

In 1987 Price edged Randy Watkins with a 209.

&uot;I really look forward to this tournament,&uot; he said the Hinds Community College coach. &uot;It’s a really big deal for us.&uot;

Not only is the tournament important to the state’s professional golfers, it’s a big deal for the top amateurs, as well.

The Farm Bureau is the only chance amateurs get to go head-to-head with PGA pros in Mississippi.

At least one of those amateurs holds the tournament higher than others throughout the state.

&uot;It’s something special for us,&uot; said 1998 Farm Bureau Invitational champion Greg Howell. &uot;As an amateur, it allows us to compete with all the pros in the state. There aren’t a lot of tournaments like that around. It’s really special.&uot;

Howell, who won his crown at Deerfield Country Club in Jackson, said the Farm Bureau is different from the Mississippi Amateur Championship and other tournaments simply because amateurs have a chance to beat the pros.

&uot;It seems to be one of the best tests of golf in Mississippi,&uot; he said. &uot;Professional golf is another level of competition, but this is a great test of golf.&uot;