EDWARDSVILLE — The 146th playing of the British Open — or more accurately, The Open Championship — is definitely going on this weekend at Royal Birkdale Golf Course in Southport, England. But there's another big tournament that's being held, and it's been rated as one of the best in the entire St. Louis area.
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The 41st edition of the Wilbur Suhre Memorial Golf Tournament is set to get underway early Saturday morning at Oak Brook Golf Course in Edwardsville. A field of approximately 164 golfers from around the area and across the country are set to compete in the two-day, 36-hole event that's named for one of the co-founders of Oak Brook.
The competition is set for five flights in both the regular division and the Seniors division, for golfers 55 and older. Corey Choate of Eureka, Mo., is the defending champion of the top flight.
“We have probably about 20 players who have a chance of winning,” said Oak Brook president Larry Suhre, Wilbur's son and also a co-founder of the course. “We also usually have about eight to 10 past champions.
“We have good participation, and a lot of our members also play,” Suhre also said.
One of the unique things about the tournament is, unlike a scrambles event, it's a traditional stroke-play format. Although Oak Brook is a collection of three separate nine-hole courses, only the front two courses will be used for the tournament. Suhre feels that the layout will provide a great test for each of the players, no matter what flight they participate in.
“This will be a good challenge for all of our players,” Suhre said. “We even have some long time members who play.”
That's another feature of the tournament: Many of the players have played in almost every event since its inception in 1977. One, Jim Micnheimer of Maryville, has missed only one tournament since the start. He's expected to play in this weekend's event.
Suhre credits both the players and the public's support for the success of the tournament in the past.
“We appreciate everyone who comes back,” Suhre said. “I credit that to Mike (Larry's son. We thank the golfers for playing in it. Obviously, we woudn't have a good tournament without them.
“I've been out here 45 years,” Suhre also said. “I can't imagine doing something else. It's a pretty good tenure, with good participation and turnout by the public, and I thank them for that.”
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