May 24, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorDefending champ Todd Tanner returns as does four-time winner Steve Schneiter.
Five former Saltwater Classic pro golf title winners are in the 2012 field Saturday through Monday at the Riverton Country Club.
Todd Tanner (2011), Steve Schneiter (1991, 1997, 2004, 2005), Scott Peterson (2007), Jim Blair (1987, 2000) and Dustin Mills (2010) are playing for the $5,000 first prize in the pro division of the 54-hole tournament. Second prize $2,500, and third wins $2,000.
The tournament opens on Saturday morning. The golfers conclude the Saltwater Classic Monday afternoon for the final 18 holes.
The annual golf tournament in Riverton started in 1975.
"It's pretty neat to have that many returning champions," Riverton Country Club golf pro Steve Johnson said. "It has been a little while since Steve (Schneiter) has been back. He is the only four-time champion."
Schneiter (2005) and Boyd Summerhays (2002) have the tournament record of 19 under par for three days. Par for the Riverton Country Club layout is 72.
The course record for an 18-hole round is 63, held by several players.
"If we have good weather, I honestly think that someone can shoot 20 under par," Johnson said. "That would be getting in the mid-60s all the way through."
Riverton Country Club golf course superintendent Chris Thomas is in charge of the greens.
"The pros also know that these are the best greens they will play on all year," said Johnson on why so many former champions are in the field. "These are guys that play Nationwide Tour events, and in PGA events. They play all over."
Johnson said this is the first tournament of the season for several of the pro golfers.
"This will kick off a very busy season for them," Johnson said.
Mother Nature played a key role in the tournament in 2011. Tanner, from Utah, opened the tournament with a four-under 68 and never lost the lead.
Rain and snow came down hard on the second day and forced tournament officials to cancel the round.
Tanner fired a seven-under 65 in the final round.
"Todd played such a great round of golf in the final round last year to win it," Johnson said. "He is a super player. He has a lot of game."
Johnson said Peterson is another contender for the top paycheck.
Peterson is a former Nationwide Tour winner.
"I played in an event with Scott in Mexico over the winter, and he is playing some good golf," Johnson said.
"I expect him to compete and do well."
Mills didn't participate in the 2011 Saltwater.
"This is Dustin's first time back since he won," Johnson said.
"I'm excited to see how his game is shaping up."
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