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Plant workers make this tourney their own

This golf tournament is as unpretentious as the name suggests.

Nothing fancy. No frills, but maybe some beverage spills. Only one rule, really,

outside of golf’s standard regulations: Have fun.

The Leroy Invitational doesn’t put on airs.

The results from the tournament last weekend at Stone Ridge Golf Club came to us for inclusion in our Tuesday community section. The name intrigued me, sort of like when I hear of a dog with a common human name, such as Larry, or Bill, or Paul.

There had to be a story behind it, so I called the organizer. When Dave Buck answered, I asked.

“I’m Leroy,” he said.

Turns out, like most of us, he’s a regular working stiff, at the Boise Cascade veneer plant in White City. Sixteen years ago, he started this tournament because, well, he and his co-workers like to play golf.

“It’s just kind of a fun thing,” he said. “It’s gotten bigger or smaller over the years, depending on who’s in town and who isn’t.”

And Leroy?

It’s his nickname, as in Jim Croce’s song, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.”

Buck was tagged with it 20-some years ago. He left out specifics, saying only, “We were all young and dumb.”

‘Nuff said.

There were 40 players this year, making 10 scramble teams. The winning squad, at 10 under, was Rex Thomas, the plant manager; his son, Chris; Rex’s son-in-law, Gary Miller; and Gary’s father, Mike.

“It’s kind of a family affair,” said Rex, adding the group plays together in other tournaments when possible.

He guesses he’s been in 14 of the 16 Leroys and has now won “two or three times.”

It’s a big deal at the plant.

“Whoever the winning team is gets bragging rights for the year,” said Thomas.

Along with other prizes?

“That’s the only thing,” he laughed.

Actually, there are cash prizes for the winners, but it remains a low-budget, low-key operation. The course and a few vendors provide raffle prizes.

“We just go out and have a good time,” said Buck. “No holds barred. No rules. Just go out and have fun. It’s literally our tournament. We’re harassing each other, stuff like that. Not meanly, though.”

There is no requirement for each person to hit such and such number of drives.

“You ride who’s hot,” said Buck. “If someone’s hitting the ball long and straight, why not play that way all the time?”

If there was heckling, it didn’t slow Thomas’ team, which started on the fifth hole. The quartet birdied the last five holes, then won a putt-off tiebreaker for the title. Two players from the other 10-under team had left, so the Millers putted against its remaining players.

Gary’s putt was closest to the hole.

“We didn’t have any spectacular shots or putts,” said Rex Thomas. “We were kind of bummed. We thought we played better than 10 under. But everybody feels like they leave a few out there.”

THEY CAN DRIVE 55: How’d they do that?

That question was heard more than once after the winning net team recorded a score of 55 under par in the second annual Southern Oregon Classic tournament at Centennial Golf Club last weekend.

“Everything just worked,” said Tim Wray, a member of the foursome. “It was just one of those rounds.”

Approach shots were close. Putts were straight. The holes seemed big.

“It’s fun to play like that,” he said, quite correctly.

Wray was a last-minute addition to the team, which was sponsored by his wife’s company, Propel Insurance. It was the first time he met his playing partners, Gregg King and Tim and Tamara Beckley.

The shamble format, of course, contributed to low scoring. Each player hit a tee shot. The group selected the one they wanted and played their own ball in.

“That was the key,” said Wray, noting that high handicap players often have trouble getting off the tee.

There was always a ball in the fairway, and they managed their way from there. Two scores each were used for gross and net scoring.

Wray’s team turned in a card showing a score of 90, but a review revealed it was 89, well under the par 144 for two scores.

Tim Beckley’s course handicap was 11, and he shot 74, as did Wray with a 13 handicap. King’s handicap was high enough that he got two strokes on some holes, and he shot 80, as did Tamara Beckley, with a 15 handicap.

“She is a really good player,” said Wray. “She takes a cut at it. She’s pretty athletic.”

There was concern over King getting in the two required drives in, but they used him on a par 3 and a short par 4.

It was evident early the team had it going.

“Things were clicking really well,” said Wray. “I’m thinking, if keep playing like this, we’ll be close to in the money. I didn’t realize until we added it up that we shot (89 net). I thought, holy smokes.”

Wray, who said he hadn’t been in the 70s for six months, expected to get some ribbing afterward. Sure enough, a buddy accused him of “leaking a little sand,” he said. He laughed off the sandbagger reference.

The second-place net team was four shots back, at 51 under. Its players were Jake Rockwell, Rocky Primo, Jeremiah Paladino and Johnathan Spang.

The winning gross team of Joey Walker, John Kandaris, Taylor Klemp and Charlie Walker shot 124, or 20 under.

The runners-up at 18 under were Max Davis, Trina Jones, Tracy Snyder and Riggs Loftin.

ALLRED WRAP-UP: With Jason Allred having stepped away from touring pro status to take a position with College Golf Fellowship, here’s a peek at some career highlights:

Played two full seasons on the PGA Tour, 2005 and ‘08.

Best PGA finishes were in 2014, when he was third in the Northern Trust Open and sixth in the Reno Tahoe Open.

Career income, counting endorsements and all tours, was more than $2.5 million.

Played in four U.S. Opens and one British Open.

At Pepperdine, received the inaugural Byron Nelson Award.

Won the prestigious Western Intercollegiate with a record 11-under score.

Was an NCAA All-American in 2002.

Won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1997.

Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@mailtribune.com