John Robinson III’s reign as the Briarbrook Invitational champion has lasted longer than first anticipated.

Robinson won the 2018 tournament with a par-216 total, finishing two shots in front of former champion Tug Baker.

The 2019 Briarbrook Invitational was canceled after a tornado went through the golf course and surrounding area in May. And this year’s event was in jeopardy for a while because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But as restrictions have been lifted, the 51st tournament will be played as originally scheduled today through Sunday. Tee times for today’s first round begin at 9:10 a.m. and continue through 2:30 p.m.

After Saturday’s second round, the field will be divided into flights before Sunday’s final round.

A change in this year’s tournament has the Senior Division playing only two rounds, beginning on Saturday.

“We’re giving golfers the option to take their own cart or pair up if they choose,” Benedict said. “I anticipate most of them will likely pair up. The first two days they will be playing with friends and family members. There will be a lot of two riders per cart.”

Most of the other changes are with social activities.

“The biggest difference has to do with the social aspect of it,” Briarbrook golf professional Nate Benedict said. “Because we’re running tee times, it’s not that much different than a really busy day at the golf course as far as players out on the course. The challenge this year has been we don’t have access to a dining facility because of restrictions and limitations because of the virus. We can’t charge 200 people into the dining room all at once.

“This year we’ll have boxed lunches instead of a buffet lunch. Saturday night we will have an outside social event with some fun contests, music. We didn’t want to totally lose the social aspect of the event.”

Robinson was a wire-to-wire winner two years ago, holding a one-shot lead after a first-round 69 and tied with Baker and Corey Clingan at 3-under 141 after two rounds.

Robinson held a four-stroke advantage at the turn in the final round, but it dwindled to a single shot during the first three holes of the back nine. But he birdied the par-5 15th hole for a two-shot edge and maintained the lead to win the tournament 37 years after his father John Robinson Jr. won this title in 1981.

“It means a lot,” JR3 said after the round. “Growing up, I would come up and watch my dad play in this tournament. It was always something I wanted to win.”

Baker is in the 110-player field this weekend along with six more top-10 finishers from 2018 — Scott Whittaker, Mark Bruder, Keith Reardon, Derrick Ashe, Taylor Lansford and Erin Campbell.

Also back are five more 2018 flight winners — Chris Patterson (Presidents), Dustin Edge (A), Shane Cowger (B), Richard Beydler (C) and Jim Ellis (D).

Chad Walker won the Seniors title two years ago with 220, but he is not entered this year.

Local tournament

Briarbrook Invitational

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — Today’s first-round pairings in the Briarbrook Invitational at the par-72 Briarbrook Golf Course:

9:10 a.m.—Don Dishner, Kyle Darker, Roland Tucker.

9:20—Zach Wrensch, Randy Wrensch, Cooper Wyrick.

9:30—Mark Bruder, Tim Old, Craig Kersey, Dan Weston.

10—Jim Hackney, Jordan Hackney, Tyler Morris, Tim Breedlove.

10:10—Mike Sharp, Bob Adam, Bill Edwards, Craig McKinley.

10:20—Greg Crawford, Scott Whittaker, Mike Leone, James Ferguson.

10:30—Erin Campbell, Matt Otey, Garrett Stallings, Dustin Edge.

10:40—Mike Moudy, Chris Moudy, Zach Braucher, Chris Landes.

11—John Robinson, Marcus Patton, Chris Patterson, Mike Cooper.

11:20—Wayne Smith, Rick Utter, Patrick Scott, Jeff Derryberry.

11:30—Kevin Blackburn, John Klute,Jeremiah Brunner, Joshua Tupper.

11:40—Rich Castillo, Jim Ellis, RandyBrownlow, Ray Maxwell.

11:50—Curt Walker, Bob McAfee, Jim Gozia, Carl Francis, Braxten Calhoon.

Noon—Kevin Carey, Bill Albright, TroySalchow, Drew Bilke.

12:10 p.m.—Phil Roller, Trae Fairchild, Taylor Lansford, Jordan Burks.

12:20—Larry Cowger, Kasey Cowger,Shane Cowger, Ronnie Ressel.

12:40—Tug Baker, Doug Gaddis, Dee Murray, Seth Colaw.

1—Shawn Platner, Bill Curry, Sammy Burks, Richie Woods.

1:10—Jason Mickey, Ryan Conley, Cody Berry, Andy Pochik.

1:20—Marty Armstrong, Nate Neel, Zach Wilson, Derrick Ashe.

1:30—Doug Cook, Brian Williams, Gary Sueltz, Randy Williams.

1:40—Steve Thomas, Keith Reardon, Marshall Smith Jr., Doug Harvey.

1:50—Elbert Smith, Richard Bentley, Scott McKenzie, Steve McKenzie.

2:10—Aaron Millsap, Micah Anderson, Jeff Bieber, Tony Sharp.

2:20—Ethan Hutcheson, Evan Hutcheson, Glen Keaton, Mike Abram.

2:30—Bill Parker, Ron Wright, Richard Beydler.

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