Golfers set to tee off at Bre­ton Bay

40th South­ern Mary­land Am­a­teur In­vi­ta­tional tour­ney starts to­day

Maryland Independent - - SPORTS - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­ Twit­ter: tblack­somds1

Be­gin­ning on Fri­day af­ter­noon nearly 200 am­a­teur golfers of all ages will be look­ing to hone their skills and en­hance their bankrolls mod­estly when they com­pete in the 40th edi­tion of the three­day, South­ern Mary­land Am­a­teur In­vi­ta­tional Golf Tour­na­ment at Bre­ton Bay Golf & Coun­try Club in Leonard­town.

Since 1978, the South­ern Mary­land Am­a­teur In­vi­ta­tional Golf Tour­na­ment has been one of the ideal spots for brag­ging rights among lo­cal golfers and, since 1983, the tour­na­ment has been di­vided into three cat­e­gories — Reg­u­lar, Se­nior and Ju­nior. Fit­tingly, tour­na­ment founder Leonard Far­ris cap­tured the Reg­u­lar ti­tle in 1983 and from 1986 to 1990, his son, Kevin Fer­ris, was the Ju­nior cham­pion four times in five years.

“My fa­ther founded this event with the hopes that it would be the premier event hosted by Bre­ton Bay,” said Kevin Fer­ris, now the tour­na­ment’s pri­mary spokesman. “His dream was to cre­ate a tour­na­ment that would have an ideal lo­cal at Bre­ton Bay and of­fer the best golfers in South­ern Mary­land a chance to com­pete in an af­ford­able, chal­leng­ing experience.”

Sev­eral years af­ter the tour­na­ment was ex­panded to in­clude three di­vi­sions, it also be­came a three-day, 54-hole event. Mike Cox was the Reg­u­lar tour­na­ment cham­pion eight times dur­ing a nine-year span from 1985 to 1993 and later Roger Welch, a na­tional ju­nior col­lege cham­pion at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land, won the Ju­nior ti­tle in 2000 and later won the Reg­u­lar ti­tle in 2004 and 2005.

“We’ve had a num­ber of re­ally good am­a­teur lo­cal golfers play in this event,” said Fer­ris, not­ing the tour­na­ment be­gan with 102 play­ers and now hosts an an­nual ca­pac­ity of 180. “It is an In­vi­ta­tional, so play­ers who com­peted last year get in­vited first and then it be­comes open to new golfers. We added Ju­nior and Se­nior di­vi­sions in 1983 and then ex­panded the for­mat from 36 holes to 54 holes.”

Mark Cu­sic won three straight Ju­nior ti­tles (1994-96) and would later cap­ture the Reg­u­lar crown in 2003 and again in 2011, 2012 and 2015. Welch won the Ju­nior ti­tle in 2000 and then won con­sec­u­tive Reg­u­lar ti­tles in 2004 and 2005. Joe Gross won three straight Ju­nior ti­tles from 2001-03, but he has yet to win a Reg­u­lar ti­tle, but two-time Ju­nior cham­pion Brent Martin (2004-05) won four straight Reg­u­lar ti­tles (2007-2010).

Tracy Val­land­ing­ham won last year’s Reg­u­lar ti­tle with a 54-hole score of 213, while Joe Fen­lon cap­tured his third straight Se­nior crown with a 220. Fen­lon also won the Se­nior ti­tle three straight years back in 2009-11. Ryan Stearns, a ris­ing sopho­more at CSM where he played for the men’s bas­ket­ball team and the golf team as a fresh­man, won last last year’s Ju­nior ti­tle and Dick Stearns was the inau­gu­ral Su­per Se­nior champ.

En­tries closed on Mon­day. The Reg­u­lar divi­sion of golfers will com­pete from the Blue tees. Se­nior golfers (those who have reached age 55 by June 23) and Su­per Se­nior golfers (those play­ers who have al­ready turned 65 by June 23) are not per­mit­ted to com­pete for the over­all ti­tle.

The top three fin­ish­ers in the Reg­u­lar, Se­nior and Su­per Se­nior divi­sion each get a cash prize, as will the top two fin­ish­ers in the Ju­nior bracket.

The growth, history and pop­u­lar­ity of the South­ern Mary­land Am­a­teur In­vi­ta­tional Golf Tour­na­ment at Bre­ton Bay has also en­abled the tour­na­ment to pro­cure more than a dozen spon­sors from var­i­ous lo­cal area busi­nesses.

“It’s re­ally some­thing that I am proud to be a a part of, es­pe­cially know­ing that my dad started it 40 years ago with the hope that it would grow into some­thing spe­cial,” Fer­ris said. “We’ve been for­tu­nate to have the sup­port of Bre­ton Bay and the spon­sors and of course all of the tal­ented lo­cal golfers who come out for this event year year.”

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