The 49th Paul Bunyan Tournament is in the books while planning for the 50th tournament has already begun. Harris Golf of Bath, which runs the tournament, wants to make next year’s event memorable.

“We’re already gearing up for it,” said Matt Barnard of Harris Golf.

“It’s going to be a celebration of the tournament. We love looking back at the history,” he said.

Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono and Kebo Valley Club in Bar Harbor have been the tourney sites for the last few years. That won’t change. Penobscot is owned by Harris Golf and the company likes having Kebo Valley as part of the tournament. The players love playing both courses, which are steeped in tradition.

The tournament has been played the first weekend of June in recent years. Before that it was played Father’s Day and U.S. Open weekend. The Bunyan was also a 54-hole tournament, Friday through Sunday, for years, but was shortened to better accommodate the working public. Players like the 36-hole format.

Barnard said that possibilities being discussed include having a banquet or something similar and inviting back past champions to celebrate the tournament’s history.

“We want to make it special,” he said.

After being plagued with poor weather in past years (last year’s second round got rained out), the tournament finally got two summer-like days.

Tournament participation was down this year to 215 players. With the 50th in 2014, the field is expected to be much larger.

Ricky Jones of Thomaston showed he’s at the top of his game in the early season, winning his fifth Bunyan by seven strokes. Jones shot rounds of 67-71-138. Ryan Gay of Pittston was second after rounds of 69-76-145. Rounding out the top five were Jason Harvey (146), Jack Wyman (148) and John Hayes IV (149).

Jones last won the Bunyan in 2007. He credited a program in strength training with helping his game. Jones said he has lost a little weight and has more energy.

He could be tough to beat in the state’s majors

SUNDAY RIVER GOLF COURSE in Newry, another Harris-owned course, will have its latest opening in its eight-year history. The previous latest opening was June 6. On average the course opens in mid to late May, but a long winter and getting the course in the shape that befits its reputation has pushed back Sunday River’s opening.

It should be soon, but Harris Golf couldn’t give a date.

“It’s our crown jewel,” said Barnard.

“We want it in the best condition possible. We have to pay attention to what our superintendent says. Maintaining a golf course in a mountain climate is not easy. One hundred days under ice and snow is tough,” said Barnard.

TEE TO GREEN: Sunday is the deadline to enter the Maine State Golf Association’s Senior Two-Man Championship and the Maine Amateur Championship. The Senior Two-Man already has 70 teams entered with room for perhaps five more teams. It will be played June 18 at the Poland Spring Resort. The Maine Amateur will have three qualifying sites for those golfers not already in the tournament.

Thirty-one teams will play in the First Tee of Maine Invitational Monday at The Woodlands in Falmouth. It’s a noon shotgun start. The tournament helps support First Tee of Maine programs.

The First Tee of Maine and Camp Susan Curtis have been named as tournament charities for the second LPGA Legends Tournament in September at Falmouth Country Club.

Ron Reynolds, the president of the MSGA, hit it big playing in a mid-week MSGA tournament at The Woodlands last week. Reynolds had the only skin in the 18-hole tournament. He recorded a net 1 on the par-3 17th. That was worth a $588 voucher from the MSGA, good at any MSGA-member golf course.

At the Maine chapter of the New England PGA Pro-Senior Championship at the Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth last week, the home team of head pro Mike Worroll, and amateurs Jonathan Brogan, John Downing and Rick Robichaud won low gross with a best ball of 132. The format had the best two scores counting on each hole. They won by eight shots. Purpoodock is a par-71,

The Sanford CC team of pro Josh Parison, and amateurs Pat Laroche, Paul Nichols and Steve Mazza won low net with a 130.

Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

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