Frank Lickliter won't be back to defend his title in the Kansas Open Wednesday through Friday at Alvamar.
Lickliter, a 26-year-old native of Franklin, Ohio, who edged ex-Kansas golfer Clay Devers in a playoff last year, is currently a top player on the Nike Tour, and will be at the Nike event in Wichita this week.
Devers, however, returns along with two-time Kansas Open amateur champ Matt Gogel, plus 1989 Open winner Chris Endres of Phoenix.
"You always like to see the local guys do well, but there always seem to be surprises," meet director Jerry Waugh said. "You get hotshots coming in from Florida, California, Texas. You get some pretty polished pros."
In all, 126 professionals and 30 amateurs will be competing for a top prize of $10,000 at the 20th annual Open on the Alvamar public course.
Thirty amateurs were to tee it up in an 18-hole qualifying round today with the top 18 earning a spot in the Open.
"The young guys who play every day are pretty tough to beat," Waugh said.
He said the golfers will find the course in "excellent condition" despite some scorching temperatures of late.
"The weather has been tough on our rough areas where we don't get water with the irrigation system," Waugh said. "The greens are in great shape as are the collars and the fairways. The condition of the golf course is super again."
The greens should be speedy.
"We cut them down for this tournament," Waugh said. "The course will play long and the ball will roll on those greens."
Total purse this year is $60,000. It figures to go up next year.
"Through thick and thin we have hung in there and maintained a strong position even with the growth of smaller professional events," Waugh said. "It has become apparent we must continue to move the purse up to stay competitive.
"It has never been our intent for a big purse to attract the competitors. We do it with the quality of the course and administration of the tournament.
"Twenty years ... it is a credit to those who have been involved throughout the years to keep it alive," Waugh added. "With the advent of Cottonwood (sponsor the last nine years), the tournament really took off."