Pros to tee it up in Albert Lea

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2002

It’s not uncommon to see a few dollars exchange hands on the golf course from time to time.

Tomorrow, several thousand dollars will on the line at Albert Lea Golf Club. And no matter who pockets it, Albert Lea students will benefit.

Oh, and by the way: The public is invited to watch.

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The 2nd Annual Albert Lea Pro-Am Golf Tournament is Monday, Aug. 5 at ALGC, and at least six professionals from the BUY.COM Tour are expected to participate.

Proceeds from the event, sponsored by local businesses, benefit the Albert Lea Public Schools Foundation, and the theme for the day is &uot;Kids Are First.&uot; Organizers are hoping to raise $10,000, almost twice as much as last year.

The action begins in the morning, with registration at 7 and tee-off at 8 for the amateur portion; it’s a four-person format with players using the best drive of the group and playing their own ball from there. The cost is $125 for 18 holes and, as of Friday, a limited number of openings remained. The pros will be stationed at the longest holes, with amateurs able to use the drives of the professionals.

After a lunch that’s open to the public the intense action begins at 1 p.m. with the 10-hole professional skins game, where $4,000 in prize money is up for grabs.

Mark Stadheim, one of the event’s organizers and a board member of the Albert Lea Public Schools Foundation, encourages area golf enthusiasts to take advantage of a rare opportunity to watch professional golfers up close. The BUY.COM Tour is one step below the PGA Tour, and many of its players have competed at the top level.

Admission is free.

“We’d really like to get as many people out there as we can, to watch these pros,” said Stadheim. “When are people going to be this close to watch pro golfers in their own back yard for free?”

One of the pros expected, Todd Barranger, has a local tie, with partial sponsorship by Dave Habben of Crossroads Trailer. Habben and Steve Flaa also help coordinate the tournament.

Anyone interested in playing in the pro-am should call ALGC at 377-1683 or Steve Flaa at 373-4443.

Here’s a brief profile the professionals expected to participate:

– Todd Barranger – Best finish on the BUY.COM Tour in 2002 was second at the Dayton Open. Winner of the 2001 Dayton Open. Ranks 11th on the tour money list in 2002 with $123,481. Entered 27 tournaments in 2001, finishing in the money in 18 and the top 10 four times. Turned professional in 1991.

– Todd Fischer – Won the 2002 Fort Smith Classic, placing second in the BMW Charity Pro-Am at the Cliffs, fourth in the Price Cutter Charity Championship, seventh at the Dayton Open and ninth at the Virginia Beach Open. Turned pro in 1993.

– Ryuji Imada – A native of Mihara, Japan who attended the University of Georgia, Imada’s best 2002 finish was 19th at the BMW Charity Pro-Am.

He won the 2000 Virginia Beach Open. Ranks 121st on the 2002 money list with $14,593. In 2001, entered 25 tournaments, finished in the money in 14 and in the top 10 in three, including two runner-up finishes. A professional since 1999.

– Joel Kribel – Entered 11 BUY.COM events in 2001, placing in the money five times and once in the top 10. Finished 45th in the 1998 PGA Masters. Pro since 1999. Ranks 23rd on 2002 BUY.COM money list with $82,195.

– Rob McKelvey – A member of the BUY.COM Tour since 1996, McKelvey made the cut in 20 of 25 tournaments in 2001. Stands 29th on current money list with $75,249, with a top 2002 finish of fourth in the Price Cutter Charity Championship. A pro since 1992.

– Scott Petersen – With $20,393, ranks 96th on the 2002 money list, with a top finish of eighth at the Price Cutter Charity Championship. In 24 2001 tournaments, placed in the money eight times and twice was in the top 10. A professional since 1993.