City golf tournament field shrinks

Kyle Taylor knows planning a mid-summer golf tournament never is easy, considering the numerous conflicts that present themselves during the warmest time of year.

Some of those obstacles contributed to a small field at this weekend’s Lawrence Amateur Golf Assn. Men’s City Championship. Fifty-seven golfers — slightly fewer than last year’s record 68 — will tee off for 18 holes at 7 a.m. today at Eagle Bend and for 18 holes at 9:03 a.m. Sunday at Alvamar in the fourth edition of what quickly is becoming a classic city event.

“Lawrence is so fortunate to have two great public golf facilities, and we’re really thrilled to hold our city championship on these two courses that complement each other so well,” said Taylor, one of the tournament’s organizers. “We’re down a little bit on numbers this year, but this time of year, with so many different golf tournaments and lots of people going on family vacations, it’s hard to find a good weekend that works for everybody.”

There may be fewer golfers, but the talent pool is as strong as ever.

Randy Conroy, the 2002 champion, won’t be playing, and neither will past city men’s senior amateur champions Mike DuPree or Jim Hill.

The top two finishers from 2003 — champ Camron Flanders and runner-up Mike Grosdidier — will join 2001 winner Matt Bellemere as the favorites to win the 2004 crown.

“I’d think any of those three guys in the top flight have an equal chance to win it,” Taylor said.

Taylor said he couldn’t pick a clear-cut standout in the field, a fact he said could foreshadow a finish as exciting as last year’s. A large crowd of spectators surrounded the green and watched as Flanders, a Kansas University junior and Lawrence High graduate, sank a birdie put on the first playoff hole to defeat Grosdidier. It was the first time in tournament history that a playoff hole was necessary to determine the winner.

“Last year was really exciting because everybody came back to the hole to watch (the playoff),” Taylor said. “Hopefully we’ll have an exciting finish again this year.”