A champion returns.
The local field is strong.
And there is even a nationally-recognized name or two.
The 15-18 age division of the 71st Annual Press Thornton Future Masters gets into swing at the Dothan Country Club on Thursday with a talented field comprised of players from throughout the country and beyond.
A field of 232 will be giving their all with the ultimate goal of winning the title of the three-round tournament and put on the signature blue blazer that goes to the champ as presented on the 18th green at the conclusion on Saturday.
Jones Free of Selma, a University of Alabama commitment, returns to defend the championship after winning it as a 16-year-old. A second round of 62 had Free within a stroke of leader Maxwell Ford going into the final day and he shot a final day 69 to win the title.
Ford, a 17-year-old from Peachtree Corners, Ga., returns after finishing just a stroke back to claim second place last year. Ford set a tournament record of 9-under-par 61 in the opening round last year, followed with a 69 on the second day but shot 1-over 71 on the final day.
Other notables returning include third place finisher Harrison Davis of Fort Payne, Andrew Spaulding of Spring, Texas, who finished eighth, and Eli Mitchell of Meridian, Miss., who came in ninth.
The winner of last year’s 13-14 age division, Jackson Koivun of San Jose, Calif., will be an interesting name to follow as he enters the older group of competitors. Koivun set what was a 13-14 division record a year ago with a three-round 199, though that mark fell this week when Hudson Wilt of Nashville finished at 197 over three rounds.
There are seven local players entered in the division, which includes a trio from Houston Academy in Matthew Streitman, Emmett Lee and Jake McDonald.
Also back is Rehobeth product Brantley Scott to join Troy’s Griffin McCrary, Enterprise’s Gibson Charlton and Andalusia’s Adam Kilpatrick.
Of national interest, John Daly II, the 16-year-old son of PGA Tour player John Daly, is back in the field. The Clearwater, Fla., resident played in the Future Masters as a 14-year-old. Allan Kournikova, the 15-year-old brother of former pro tennis star Anna Kournikova, is in the lineup.
International players included Teagan Miller of South Africa and Egor Zubov of Russia.
The first tee times are scheduled for 6:30 a.m. on Thursday with the last groups slated to tee off at 1:57 p.m.
There is no charge for admission and spectators are welcomed, but they are expected to stay on cart paths where possible and maintain social distancing from other players and spectators. Players and spectators can decided for themselves whether or not to wear a face mask and/or protective gloves.
Food can be purchased throughout the week in a food court area that will be set up outside next to the driving range.
For tee times, check www.futuremastersgolf.com