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Saltwater Classic this weekend, with $10,000 pro prize
P.J. Thomas of Riverton is playing Saturday through Monday at the annual Saltwater Classic golf tournament. Photo by Wayne Nicholls

Saltwater Classic this weekend, with $10,000 pro prize

May 23, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

The 54-hole tournament starts on Saturday morning and ends Monday afternoon at the Riverton Country Club.

The prize money has doubled this year for the winner of the annual Saltwater Classic golf tournament in Riverton.

The pro champion of the tournament receives $10,000.

In the past, the winner has earned $5,000 for the best score at the Riverton Country Club.

The 54-hole tournament starts on Saturday morning and ends Monday afternoon. Golfers have a practice round Friday afternoon.

"We had an anonymous donor request to raise first to $10,000," Riverton Country Club golf pro Steve Johnson said. "We are going to see a few more nerves from the pros."

The second prize money is now $3,000, and third wins $2,500.

"The money has created a stronger field," Johnson said. "I hope that we can build momentum, and that the word that is going to get out.

The Saltwater is a great stepping stone."

The Riverton Country Club is a par 72 course.

"The course is in unbelievable condition," Johnson said. "The greens continue to be some of the best ones the pros play on."

Superintendent Chris Thomas has prepared the golf course for the tournament.

"Chris does a wonderful job of maintaing the golf course," Johnson said. '"It's in near-perfect condition."

Returning champions

Four returning pro champions are in the field this year.

Scott Peterson (2007), Dustin Mills (2010), Todd Tanner (2011) and Joseph Summerhays (2008) are playing this weekend in Riverton.

"Scott has a lot of credentials," Johnson said. "He has to be one the favorites to win this year."

2012 pro champion Nick Travers will not be back to defend his title.

"He is doing qualifying for Web.com tour," Johnson said. "He has some status there."

The Web.Com tour is the development tour for the PGA tour.

Thermopolis pro golfer Brant Kummerfeld put himself in the running for the Saltwater Classic title after winning a U.S. Open qualifying round last week in Riverton with a four-under 68.

"Brant plays this golf course really well," Johnson said. "I'm just really excited about his chances."

The course record is 63, held by several players.

"If the weather is good, I predict that 15- to 18-under would be the winning score," Johnson said.

Amateur field

"Starting last year with the top players in the amateur field, we changed the format so that they play from the same tees as the professionals," Johnson said. "That gives the possibility of the overall champion coming from the amateur division."

In the 2012 Saltwater, BYU player Zac Blair had an opportunity to win the overall title, only to miss a short putt on last hole or he would have been in a playoff for the overall title.

Blair will be making a return trip this weekend.

"The amateur field is the best one by far," Johnson said.

Utah State golfer Zach Waxler and University of Wyoming golf P.J. Thomas are both in the field.

Both played for Riverton High School.

Riverton Middle School eighth-grader Easton Paxton is in the top amateur flight.

"Easton had a little ankle injury at school this week," Johnson said.

"We are hoping to get him healthy for the event."

Paxton scored a 72 in the U.S. Open qualifying round.

"He hit the ball well enough to win the U.S. Open qualifying round," Johnson said.

"He just didn't get any putts to fall."

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