When the folks from Golf Universe and Canyon Lakes Golf Course decided last year to start the Tri-City Open golf tournament, they had humble goals that stressed quality over quantity.
But they wanted to see some steady growth, and that’s happened.
When this year’s event, which runs Saturday and Sunday at Canyon Lakes, is held, the number of players has grown.
“We have 74 amateurs and 22 professionals,” said Matt Mandell, Canyon Lake’s head pro who also doubles as the tournament director. “That’s 26 more than what we had last year.”
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Professional Kevin PomArleau, who grew up in Wenatchee but now resides in Palm Springs, won the inaugural event last year when he overtook Walla Walla’s Brady Sharp on the second day.
Both golfers are back for this weekend, but they’ll be facing a much tougher field this time.
“I think the field was OK last year,” said Mandell. “There were a lot of local golfers. But this year, we’ve got guys who have won sectional majors to a guy on the Canadian Golf Tour.”
That Canadian Tour player is Kennewick High grad Kevin Tucker.
Of course, the money is nice and that’s a part of the draw.
At $300 to enter for professionals, with 22 entered, that’s $6,600 in pro prize money – a 100 percent payout.
But it’s not just the cash.
“I think they guy who is looking for a quality event with a quality field will like this,” said Mandell. “And it’s open to anybody.”
Among those who should be favored among the pros are PomArleau and Sharp; Tony Robydek from Lakewood, who actually finished second last year; Shane Prante, a pro from Olympia; Derek Barron out of Tacoma Firs; and Corey Prugh from Manito in Spokane.
Some of the local pros include Ryan Dahl, Lionel Kunka, Jordan Reeder, Drew Reinland and Steve Stull.
On the amateur side, Kennewick’s Mike Combs, a former professional, has his amateur status back.
Also look for former Southridge star Nick Atkins and Ken Wade, the current men’s club champion at Canyon Lakes, to possibly do well.
Ladies Tumbleweed: Meanwhile, the 61st Ladies Tumbleweed tournament at Tri-City Country Club is also this weekend, with rounds on Saturday and Sunday.
Chris Isaacson, director of golf at TCCC, says that 60 players are entered in the event.
“It’s a little light from the 70 we had last year, but it’s a talented field,” Isaacson said.
Among the field are past winners Jamie Cimmiyotti and Lori (Thorington) Wenner.
Cimmiyotti, whose home course is TCCC, has won the tournament four times. Wenner, from Meadow Springs, has won it once.
Dona Dunovant, from Walla Walla Country Club, has been a contender numerous times but has never won the event. This might be her year.
Kylene Smoot of Sun Willows and Sandy Bauer of Horn Rapids could have a chance at the title, too.