One thing’s for certain at the third annual Craig Bowers Memorial Monster Ball golf tournament that starts today in Greenville.
The tournament, which has attracted a record field of 104 teams, will crown a new championship team.
Last year’s winning team of Brian Rowell and Michael Meyer can’t play in this year’s 36-hole event at Wright Park Municipal and Oak Creek Country because Rowell is competing in the OK Kids Korral event on the Adams tour in Norman, Okla. Meyer has been his caddy. Rowell is currently in 23rd place after shooting rounds of 71, 68 and 68 at the Belmar Golf Club.
Rowell missed the cut at last year’s OK Kids Korral tournament, which enabled Rowell and Meyer to drive down to Greenville and win this tournament with a 60 at Wright Park and a 56 at Oak Creek for a 116 total.
Eric Kelly, who finished second last year with partner Matt Neyra, is back in the championship flight again with a different partner this time, Hunter Linscombe, who is a former Midwestern State golfer. Kelly, who holds the course record at Oak Creek with a 63, won the first Monster Ball tournament in 2012 by six strokes with his partner, Billy Blankenship.
Cory Stone, who finished second in the 2012 tournament with partner Alan Hawkins, is paired this time with Canadian golfer Dustin Risdon, who’s won three titles in Canada. Stone was an NCAA Division II all-American golfer at Cameron University in Oklahoma.
Abilene golfer Jaxon Brigman, who finished 10th at the Byron Nelson tournament in 2005, is paired with former Greenville Lion baseball standout Keigh George in another team to watch in the tough championship flight.
Brandon Herber and Boyd Barnes, who’ve won a couple of titles at Oak Creek Country Club in the past, are also paired in the championship flight. Herber was a state high school champion at Whitewright and was a club champion at Webb Hill Country Club.
Brady Jones and Kristen Jones are back to defend their title in the first flight. They shot rounds of 65 and 62 to win by a single stroke over Shaun Franklin and Blake James. Brady Jones won the Monster Ball long drive contest on Friday with a drive of 327 yards. Franklin is also in the first flight with new partner Robert Campbell.
Two more teams to watch in the first flight are Matt Neyra, paired with Jerry Ransom, and Julian Bowers with Scott Wagoner. Wagoner played golf at Rice.
Former Greenville Lion football standouts Keith Bonham and Jerry Jolley will be defending their title in the second flight. They were members of the Greenville Lions’ 1960 bi-district championship football team.
Last year’s third flight winners, Chip Driver and Tom Benton, have been bumped up to the second flight, which means the third flight will have a new championship team.
The fifth flight will have a new championship team after last year’s winners, Randy Moore and Klayton Moore, were bumped up to the fourth flight.
The sixth flight winners from last year, Rick Espino and Brad Espino, were bumped up to the fifth flight.
The championship through third flights will tee off today at Wright Park, with the other flights at Oak Creek. Tee times are at 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. The golfers will then switch courses for the final 18-hole round on Sunday.
The event is named for Craig “Monster” Bowers, an avid golfer, baseball player and basketball player who was also a basketball coach and assistant principal. Bowers died in a Colorado skiing accident in 2012. Proceeds from the event benefit local charities as well as a college scholarship fund for his three children.