Lessley wins third Beau Pre Championship

Published 12:19 am Monday, June 9, 2008

NATCHEZ — A year ago, Jay Lessley struggled to finish in the middle of the pack in the first flight at the Beau Pré Club Championship. But after Saturday’s round of 68, Lessley was just 18 holes away from being crowned the club champion.

And despite four-putting for double bogey on the par-5 18th hole for a final-round score of 3-over-par 75 on Sunday afternoon, Lessley’s two-day score of 1-under-par 143 was good enough for first place and a four-shot win over Trampus Butler.

“I was at least six shots ahead (going into 18),” Lessley said. “I played real well. I played every par pretty much all the way up to the last hole.”

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In the 2007 edition of this tournament, Lessley had rounds of 78 and 80. He noted that that was a “bad weekend.”

This the third time Lessley has won the Beau Pré Club Championship. He won back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003.

This was also the second straight top-three finish for Butler in the championship flight. Last year he finished in third place, six shots behind surprising champion Lloyd Trisler.

“I figured I would have to shoot an even par or 2-under 70 with Jay in the lead. He’s such a good golfer,” Butler said. “I hit the ball good, but I just didn’t make any putts. It’s tough to catch Jay.”

The turning point between the two started when Butler’s birdie putt on No. 2 ended up an inch short of the hole. Then Lessley made an outstanding putt for birdie on No. 4 and followed that up with a birdie on No. 5.

Bill Byrne, who shot a 1-under 71 on Saturday, got off to as bad of a start as one could get and wound up shooting an 81 on Sunday to finish at 152.

“I bogeyed 2 and 3. Then I hit it in the water on 4 and doubled that hole. A three-putt for bogey on 5,” Byrne said. “I was disappointed. Jay’s a quality player. He’s the best amateur on the club. I enjoyed playing with him.”

The other big story of the final round was the 12-stroke improvement by Bill Lambert. After struggling to finish at 90 on Saturday, then starting bogey-bogey-bogey on Sunday, Lambert somehow fired a 78 to finish at 168 and won the third flight.

“I had a hurt back (Saturday). Last night, I put some heat on it and loaded it up with Ibuprofen,” Lambert said. “I had to swing the clubs a lot easier today. Just got lucky. After the first three holes, I figured it would be more of the same.”

Mark Carter came out of nowhere to win the first flight thanks to a round of 73 for a two-day score of 153. Carter had three birdies and four bogeys in his final round.

“I putted and chipped a lot better. That was the difference,” Carter said. “It was hot. Gnats were the worst part.”

Craig Bradford fired a final-round 77 to take the second flight with a two-day total of 159.

Kinney Carlton shot a 78 to finish at 155 as he won the senior division (50-69 years old) by two shots over Doug Scruggs and Charles Yarbrough.

“Considering I haven’t played very much this year, I played pretty well. I could’ve played better,” Carlton said. “The golf course is in great shape. They played well, but they had a couple of bad breaks. I got lucky yesterday. I eagled 14 from 148 yards out.”

Bub Mullins won the super senior division (70+ years old) by firing a final-round 78 for a two-day total of 155, eight shots ahead of second place John McGee.

“Up and down. Hit some good shots and some not-so-good ones. I got some lucky bounces, too,” Mullins said.