Kris Kallem rattled off eight names that could be in contention for the Joe Durgan Memorial Trophy awarded to the winner of the 50th Lilac City Invitational, which begins a four-day run Thursday at The Fairways.
And then he mentioned three more names.
The Lilac, which returned last year after a five-year hiatus, is back with a deeper field of pros (30, compared with 17 last year) and amateurs (39, compared to 37) in the region’s only 72-hole golf tournament. Those participation numbers could increase by Thursday’s opening round.
“It’s a really strong field,” said Kallem, tournament director and The Fairways general manager.
The top three finishers from last year return. Defending champion Hank Frame, the former Washington State University golfer, won as an amateur, beating Clarkston’s Michael Roters on the second playoff hole. Jason Humphrey finished one shot behind Frame and Roters.
Others who figure to be in the mix are Manito assistant pro Corey Prugh, Cheney’s Todd Pence, Wenatchee’s Kevin Pomarleau, Tacoma’s Tony Robydek, Montanan Jimmy Mee and three former champions – Storm Gleim (1997), Chris Ming (2004) and Colby Myers (2006).
Prugh was the PGA Pacific Northwest Section player of the year in 2012. Pomarleau won the Tri-City Open last week and Robydek tied for second. Pros are competing for a $5,000 first-place check.
Kallem is pleased with the increased number of entries. He believes word of mouth from 2012 participants and a more favorable spot on the July calendar has boosted participation. Last year’s event was held July 5-8.
“I think we learned last year that we still had the ability to run a fun event as well as a competitive one,” Kallem said.
The Fairways is in tremendous shape, Kallem said. The traditional Long Drive Contest will be held Friday. No word on the status of the slip-and-slide, which debuted last year near the 18th tee box and enticed several pros to cool off after a Saturday round in sweltering conditions.
“That remains to be seen,” Kallem said. “The high on Saturday is supposed to be 78 degrees so it’s probably not going to be a scorcher.”