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When he's not a business-man, husband and father, Chris Lemley plays golf at an elite level.
Daily photo by John Godbey
When he's not a business-man, husband and father, Chris Lemley plays golf at an elite level.

Lemley confident he'll shoot better at this Mid-Amateur
Decatur businessman packing for national event in Oregon

By Michael Wetzel 340-2462

Chris Lemley is getting a second chance at performing well in the prestigious U.S. Mid-Amateur golf tournament.

His first trip to the U.S. Mid-Amateur was seven years ago at The Cascades at The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., the home of the late golfing legend Sam Snead.

"I was a little bit in awe of the place, the whole experience," said Lemley, owner of JCL Medical Supply Co. in Decatur.

"I was eating lunch with a friend after our practice round, and Sam and Bob Goalby (1968 Masters winner) came in and sat at the table next to us. We were quiet so we could hear them talk. Snead had some great stories, and it was truly a great experience to be there, but I didn't do much in the way of golfing."

Lemley, 41, finished tied for 196th, posting a 16-over score.

Lemley, who played collegiately at Wallace State-Hanceville and North Alabama, said he is using the 2000 tournament as a learning experience when he travels to Bandon, Ore., the site of this year's U.S. Mid-Amateur, on Sept. 29-Oct. 4.

The tournament features 264 golfers 25 and older who qualified in 60 sectionals across the country. After 36 holes, the field is reduced to a 64-player, match-play format.

The U.S. Mid-Amateur winner receives an invite to the Masters and U.S. Open as well as several top national amateur events.

Perhaps the most notable Mid-Amateur champion is Jay Sigel, a three-time winner who went on to play on the Champions Tour for seniors.

Lemley's 68 earned him medalist honors at the sectionals at the Old Waverly Club in West Point, Miss., on Aug. 29.

"I actually played pretty good tee to green," Lemley said.

He was one of three golfers from the 55-player field earning a spot in Oregon. Flip Bradley, a Huntsville golfer who frequents Decatur tournaments, also qualified with a 69 at the sectionals in Oneonta.

Going into the final hole, Lemley needed at least a par to qualify.

He made eagle. He holed his second shot from 198 yards away with 4-iron to put an exclamation point on his qualifying round.

"At Old Waverly, I knew I had to play the best I could and hope it was good enough," he said.

A business, wife and two children keep Lemley from playing as much as he would like.

"I've got a lot of things tugging at my time, but I do try to play once and week, and sometimes I get in a couple of days a week."

Lemley plays locally at Point Mallard and the Burningtree Country Club.

He credits longtime Point Mallard professional Elvis Larkin for developing his game.

"Elvis is really the only coach I've had," said Lemley, a graduate of East Lawrence High. "I've spent a lot of time with him over the past 20 years or so on the course and practice range. We occasionally get together now, but it's usually for lunch, not about golf."

Lemley said he'll be disappointed if he doesn't improve on his 2000 play at the Mid-Amateur.

"I've got some confidence now. My ball striking has come back," he said. "I don't have expectations of going out there to win the thing, but I'm expecting to make match play and see how deep I can go into the tournament.

"I'm playing pretty good right now. Everybody out there is going to hit the ball well. It's about making putts."

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