The stature of the Maryland Amateur Stroke Play championship continues to grow, as it will present its strongest field when the 26th annual program is held this weekend at Mount Pleasant Golf Course.
Seven past champions are among the 192 entrants, including five of the past six -- Bob Kaestner, Greg Henry, Bill Stout, Justin Klein and defender Buddy Peoples. The other two are Bill Dornbusch (1970) and Bob Morrison (1985). Such is the popularity of the tournament that the limit on entries was reached 10 days ahead of the closing deadline.
Among others in the field are Maryland Open champion Del Ponchock, former Maryland State Amateur champions Dave King and Shane Patterson, along with last week's runner-up, Larry Storck, plus reigning two-time Baltimore Publinx champion Charles Narciso.
The entire field will play the first 36 holes, Friday and Saturday, and, after a cut, approximately half of the group will play the final round Sunday.
Pros in spotlight
Such are the commitments of touring professionals these days that time away from tour stops does not necessarily mean time off. Mondays and Tuesdays often find them on the corporate/charity outing circuit. Three area examples of this were evident in past weeks.
Senior PGA Tour member Harold Henning was in for a clinic and to be the celebrity guest at a local charity outing; a dozen PGA Tour pros were in for a mini pro-am; and two pros were in to do a photo shoot as a part of one of their contracts.
Of the pros at Caves Valley Golf Club last Monday, five came in after completing four rounds in the U.S. Open at Springfield, N.J., the day before. At least one was still on an emotional high.
For Fred Funk, currently calling College Park home, it had been a heady weekend. Saturday, he played the third round of the Open with Jack Nicklaus (Funk 67; Nicklaus 76), and Sunday he had finished with a par-matching 70 and a tie for seventh place.
"I was more nervous that last round than I was on the Sunday of Houston," Funk said, referring to the site of last year's tour victory. "I thought I had a chance in the Open -- if I got something going early and the leaders backed up -- but I wanted to be sure and finish in the top 16 [one of several qualifying standards] so I could go back to the Masters."
Paul Azinger and Dottie Mochrie, who have Head sportswear among their commercial contracts, were at Cattail Creek Country Club in western Howard County for what became a nearly eight-hour photograph session with new merchandise. The artwork will be used in the company's national advertising program.
Azinger, seeing the yet-to-be-opened 18-hole layout for the first time, asked if he could play it. An affirmative answer was forthcoming, and during the conversation, he asked if the yardages were on the sprinkler heads. Told not yet, he asked about 150-yard markers. Told there were not to be any, he said, "OK. I guess I'll have to play the game the way they used to play it."
The Executive Women's Golf League will celebrate the formation of one of its chapters -- and its second national anniversary -- when the Annapolis/Chesapeake Bay group holds member-guest tournament for women (and men) as part of a weekend program, July 9-11, at Queenstown Harbour Golf Links in Annapolis. The entry deadline is Wednesday, with information available from (410) 721-7888.
Cattail Creek, located on Route 97, about five miles south of Interstate 70, will have its ceremonial opening Saturday morning, featuring remarks by president David Carney and course architect Willard Byrd, followed by member play. Tom Beidleman is the head professional and Kevin Pryseski the course superintendent.
The closest site with a remaining date for local qualifying in the National Long Drive Contest is Poolesville Golf Club in Montgomery County, July 10. . . . Entries are open for the Maryland State Golf Association's mixed two ball event, due Aug. 6 at Montgomery Country Club, with a deadline of July 23. . . . A field of 56 amateurs and 50 pros will compete for four places when qualifying for the USGA Senior Open is held tomorrow at Columbia CC. . . . A field of 54 teams will participate in the Eastern Yamaha/Middle Atlantic PGA Pro-Senior tournament tomorrow at Longview Golf Course. . . . Entries are available for an All-Star Classic golf tournament July 12 at Cambridge CC, for the benefit of Dorchester General Hospital. Eastern Shore resident and Orioles designated hitter Harold Baines is serving as honorary chairman. Information is available from (410) 228-5511 (extension 307).
This week's schedule
Tomorrow--U.S. Senior Open (qualifying round), Columbia CC, Chevy Chase, 7:30 a.m.; Eastern Yamaha/Middle Atlantic PGA Pro-Senior, Longview GC, 8 a.m. Tuesday--Women's Golf Association at Chestnut Ridge CC and Suburban Club, 9 a.m. Friday-Saturday-Sunday--Maryland Amateur Stroke Play championship, Mount Pleasant GC, 7 a.m.