Strong field to test CCC Men's Invitational

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By Lee Kendall

A full field of 96 golfers, or close to it, is expected to participate this weekend in the 45th Cynthiana Country Club's Men's Invitational Golf Tournament. The two-day, 36-hole stroke play event is set to get underway on Saturday morning and will conclude on Sunday.

"Right now we have 70 paid entrants and expect to get right at 96 golfers for this weekends tournament," said Men's Golf Association president and tournament committee member Ray Sparks on Tuesday night. "The course is in really good shape and we look for a very competitive tournament."

Defending champ and former Cynthiana resident Kevin Letcher will return and attempt to retain his title in the championship flight. Last summer was magical for Letcher as he won his first-ever CCC Men's Invitational and also advanced through local qualifying into the sectional level for the USGA's US Open.

Five-time winner Bart Lenox has regained his amateur status and will rejoin the field for the first time since he last won in 2002. Lenox won four consecutive titles from 1999-2002, then became a club pro and relinquished his amateur status. Two years ago, he changed his career path and began the process of regaining his amateur status.

Falmouth's Steve Houchen, himself a four-time winner of the event, will return this year. Joining Houchen in the championship flight will be Derrick Tingle and Scott Bolin from Danville, Larry Hartig from Northern Kentucky, Adam Voss from Lexington, Matthew Grayson from Mt. Olivet

Also vying for the title this year will be Cynthiana residents Rus Whalen and Jason Works.

Whalen is a 2008 graduate of Centre College and a four-year member of its golf team. Works is the defending club champion at CCC.

"Both Rus and Jason are fully capable of winning this tournament," said Mike Lenox, an 11-time winner of the event and still an avid golfer. "They are both very familiar with the course and both have the game to win this tournament."

Lenox is in his second year as the golf course superintendent at the CCC and will not be competing in the tournament. He says the course is in tip-top condition.

"We had a relatively cool spring, which delayed the Bermuda grass from really coming on the way we wanted it to," Lenox said on Tuesday. "But it has heated up the last couple or three weeks and it is starting to take off. The greens are in excellent shape and should be rolling really well. We've had plenty of rain this spring, so the roughs are thick and lush."

There will be a shoot-out on Friday afternoon, beginning at 5 p.m. that is open to all tournament competitors. The shoot out will consist of nine holes of play, with one or two golfers eliminated on each hole until a champion is proclaimed.