By CAREY FOX
Brazil's Forest Park Golf Course will welcome more than 100 talented linksters for the September 2-3 weekend for the seventh annual Brazil Open tournament.
Troy Farris is the defending champion of the tourney and is expected to return in defense of his title this year along with a wealth of talented golfers from all over the state.
The Open began as a single day event held the Monday before the fourth of July holiday, a date that according to golf pro Mark Rogers, wasn't optimal in bringing in as many amateurs as have recently been competing in the new format.
"We've searched for a time that is best," commented Rogers. "The 4th of July is just so busy. We've worked to get it back to Labor Day. We'd like to create a tradition here with this tournament so that 50 years down the road you can look back at the names and scores and the tradition."
The names that have won the tournament thus far have a history of their own with both professionals and amateurs counted as past champions.
Darrett Brinker of Evansville, a pro who played on the Hooters tour, was the first winner of the event back in 2000, followed by former Cloverdale standout Chad Collins in 2001. You might remember that Collins was quite high on the leaderboard late in this year's U.S. Open Championship before slipping back to a tie for 40th overall. This season his top finishes include a second place at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open back in March and a third place in the Xerox Classic on August 13 as part of the Nationwide Tour. Another Nationwide Tour pro, Jamie Broce was the 2003 winner with Farris' win last season, the first by an amateur golfer.
According to Rogers, moving the tourney to a two-day affair has helped attract top talent and gives the event a different feel for participants.
"Originally when the Brazil Open was a one-day event, we had it on a Monday. But we moved it to a two-day event. We always wanted a true Open tourney so we could have amateurs and professionals competing against each other."
The tournament also benefits the local community and raises the awareness of golf to some of the younger golfers in the area noted Rogers.
"I think that the tourney adds to Brazil's sports history and it's a great way to invite people to Brazil. When you figure in that you have the participants plus their families who might come in and have dinner or visit local businesses, it has a beneficial impact."
The effects have trickled down into some of the area's younger golfers as well.
"It's great for the middle school golfers," mentioned Rogers. "They get to play two days of golf and the tournament competition helps develop the kids. I'm pretty excited that the middle school kids play in it. The best thing about golf is that anybody can play."
The Brazil Open will also include a Senior Division whose participants play from the white tees and a Super Senior Division for 65-and-older golfers as well as a Junior Division.
For Rogers, the true spirit of the Brazil Open is the competition. "This is a fun tournament, but it has a different atmosphere because it's medal play. In a tournament like this you know that every shot counts and that's what is fun about it. There is golf and then there is tournament golf. That's what is fun about golf is the competition."
The Brazil Open, whose sponsor once again this season is the Greenleaf Corporation, tees off with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Another upcoming event at Forest Park is the two-man best ball tourney that will be held Sept. 30 and October 1.