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A field of some 90 golfers is assembled for the 41st annual H.W. Weatherford Memorial/Wilson County Amateur men’s and women’s golf championship, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Wedgewood Public Golf Course.
The turnout is comparable to 2018 but short of expectations. However, a shortage of contenders does not exist.
At least 15 entrants deserve “contending” status in the Men’s Open division and competition should be stern in the men’s Seniors, Super Seniors and Legends groups.
Women’s participation is down with only Carol Owens and Carol Bryant entered as of early Friday afternoon.
Former Beddingfield High standout Stephen Abrams will defend his men’s title, but Patch Wilkinson of Wilson Country Club will not seek a repeat of women’s supremacy.
“We are happy with the field,” commented Wedgewood professional Brady Pinner. “We do wish we had more golfers playing; we want the numbers up.”
Abrams can expect a strong challenge from the likes of 2017 champion David Lee, Mark Whitley, Clint O’Hara, Brandon Godwin, Brock Godwin, Will Pope, Chance Cox, former champion Kent Williams, Matt Figg, Brandon McKeel, Kyle Norville, Ryan Pittman and Dwayne Baker.
O’Hara and Whitley have flirted with seizing their first county crown in recent years. Williams is eligible to compete in the Seniors division, but prefers to give the Open ranks another shot.
Also back is Justin Hayes, who captured his third county title in 2016. Hayes has played just one round of golf since 2016 and that outing occurred last Saturday.
Hayes insists he looks forward to having a lot of fun, but his peers are pretty assured he’s going to be competitive. Hayes jokes that he’d take a round of 70 each day for a 4-under-par 140 and take his championship chances by remaining in the clubhouse.
“Somebody could shoot 6- or 7-under,” Pinner declared. “Tomorrow, you go get it. Sunday, you hold on. The golf course (par 36-36—72, 6,400 yards) is fantastic. It’s in great shape. (Golf course superintendent) Daniel (Lancaster) has done a great job. He and his staff have worked their butts off in getting ready for this.”
Regardless of the turnout, women golfers might heed Owens advice: “Stay out of the rough.”
On the Seniors scene, the name of Todd Wilkinson, Barton College’s athletic director, has become prominent. Doug Barnes returns as the 2018 Legends victor.
To be reckoned with are Scott Irby, a champion in multiple divisions; Rick Proctor, Lee Fulcher, Terry Barnes, Gene Williams, John Wooten and Danny Barnes.
And, as always, a relative unknown will emerge.
Pinner revealed the course will be set up tougher Sunday and, for championship flight Open players, will play at its maximum length.
“We love the county championship,” Pinner remarked in behalf of the host course.
The two-day 2019 tourney was originally scheduled for last weekend but postponed because of the threat of Hurricane Dorian.