Tug Baker begins defense of Briarbrook crown

·2 min read

Jun. 11—After a record-breaking performance last year, Tug Baker returns to defend his championship in this weekend's Briarbrook Invitational golf tournament.

A field of 111 golfers have entered the 52nd tournament, which begins its three-day run on Friday morning and continues through the final round on Sunday.

Baker, from Carthage, blistered the Briarbrook layout last season with 19 birdies and only three bogeys while posting rounds of 66-66-68 for a 16-under-par 200, shattering the former mark of 11-under by Robert Russell in 1994 and 1996. Baker, who also won this tournament 10 years earlier, was 1-under when making the turn during the first round, then carded 16 birdies and only one bogey during the last 45 holes.

"The gas pedal stayed down," Baker said after the final round. "The whole goal was to make committed swings all week. If you do that, it doesn't matter what you shoot. ... If I hit a bad shot, so be it. I'm trying to put things in perspective more and just go get it."

Last year's event provided the best collective scores at the top of the leaderboard in tournament history. Runner-up Garrett Stallings tied the former tournament record of 11-under 205, spiced by a second-round 9-under 63, and third-place Jordan Burks finished at 10-under 206.

Before last year, only three players had finished under par in double figures — Russell in '94 and '96, Boyd Downey and Paul Ashe at 10-under 206 in 1990 (Downey won on the first playoff hole), and Downey again in 2011 with another 206.

Past champions Ethan Hutcheson and Mark Bruder were next at 211 and 213, respectively, to complete the top-5,, and all five return this year.

Erin Campbell, who tied for sixth at 214, also is back along with Bill Curry (215), Taylor Lansford (216) and Tim Old and Chris Moudy (both 220).

The champions from the other flights also return — Cody Berry from President's Flight (217), Mike Cooper in A Flight (225), Jeff Bieber in B Flight (236), Larry Cowger in C Flight (250) and co-champs Braxten Cahoon and Mike Sharp (266) in D Flight.

In addition, Frank Jacobs is back to defend his Seniors Division crown after shooting 1-under 143 in the 36-hole event. Bob McKay finished second at 145, and he also returns.

Tee times begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday and continue through 2:10 p.m. The final group in Sunday's final round is expected to start around 2, according to Briarbrook club professional Nate Benedict.

Follow Sports Editor Jim Henry on Twitter at @Jim_Henry53.