The Adams Pro Tour has come back to Lufkin for another go at Crown Colony. The competition is stiff and hits home for some of the golfers because they are home.
If the tour with 115 professional golfers wasn't competitive enough, try adding in a pool of local talent.
Five East Texans are in the mix for the title. The five not only have history with each other, but also have a chance at some bragging rights in a series set to unfold in front of their home crowd.
“It feels like old times,” said former Lufkin Panther Will Griffin.
Now a professional in the sport, Griffin is set to compete against his former high school teammates Sam Fidone and Tyler Dunbar.
Griffin and Fidone both graduated high school together in 2011. Dunbar became the third stake to the tripod when he started High School two years behind Griffin and Fidone. The trio even collaborated for a run to a state title in 2010.
The time to reminisce is over for the group. Those high school memories are cast away in the past with a local Adams Pro Tour championship now planned for the future.
“We all want to prove who's the best around here,” said Dunbar.
“Sam and I grew up here as members since we were kids. We were eating in the grill and playing nine holes for a coke,” said Griffin.
Now that Griffin and Fidone play golf professionally, they’ll be playing for a little more than a coke this time around. The dollar cokes have been canned for a $20,000 prize and local pride.
However, the competition for local notoriety isn’t just within Lufkin.
“Winning this golf tournament and beating some of the Lufkin guys would make it a little sweeter,” said Diboll native Wesley McClain.
A sweet victory is yet to be had in this year's tour, but it very well could be stripped from Lufkin and make a trip down US 59.
McClain graduated from Diboll High School in 2010 and competing against the Pack is nothing new. He’s now been professionally for two years come September.
The Lufkin support swirling around town for the native trio has carved a chip on the shoulder of the Diboll Lumberjack.
“I'm sure we'll have support here. They may have a little bit more being from a bigger town but that will just motivate me a little bit more,” said McClain.
“It’s not like we hate each other. We just both want to win that much, especially here, and have that pride knowing we're the best here,” said Griffin.
While he may be an amateur, don’t count Dunbar out of contention just yet as he’s building his own case at taking the Crown Colony crown.
Dunbar is competing against his old pals, but all bets are off for this go-around.
“I think I have a good chance at winning because it's my home course. I grew up here. I know how to play it and I’ve shot a lot of low numbers in tournaments so I'm feeling pretty confident,” said Dunbar.
Friendly banter was only a matter of time when it came to these competitors reuniting on the green in their backyards. It started when Dunbar sent a text to Fidone. That’s when Fidone gave Dunbar a friendly reminder about the upcoming tour.
“He said, ‘Get ready for next week because I'm coming for you’ and I said ‘Alright, I'm ready,’” said Dunbar.
One thing all the local golfers have in common is their knowledge of the course which is notoriously known for showing no mercy while demanding every aspect of the game.
“It's the hardest short golf course you'll ever play. It will eat you alive,” said Griffin. “Playing this course is like a chess match. You have to plot every move.”
“A lot of guys I've played with today and yesterday have been talking about how this is the hardest course they play all year,” said Dunbar.
Whether you're team Lufkin or team Diboll, in the end it could be a win for East Texas.
The tournament tees off Wednesday at 8 a.m. but here's a look at the East Texans tee times.
Griffin starts at 9:30 a.m. at Hole 1. Fidone will be at Hole 1 starting at 12:30 p.m. McClain will be at Hole 10 at 9:30 a.m. Dunbar will begin at Hole 1 starting at 2:10 p.m. Nacogdoches’ Stetson McMillan will begin at Hole 1 starting at 1:50 p.m.
The 115 professionals and six amateurs will be sliced down to 40 when the final rounds begin on Friday and Saturday.
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