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Slavic Invitational set to take over South Mississippi

Lane Pippin chips his ball onto the green while competing in the final round of the 40th annual Slavic Invitational on Sunday, September 28, 2014, at Fallen Oak Golf Course. The Slavic Invitational kicks off Friday across the Coast.
Lane Pippin chips his ball onto the green while competing in the final round of the 40th annual Slavic Invitational on Sunday, September 28, 2014, at Fallen Oak Golf Course. The Slavic Invitational kicks off Friday across the Coast. amccoy@sunherald.com File

One week before Cruisin’ the Coast converges on The Playground of the South, more than 500 competitors will take over six Coast golf courses Friday through Sunday in what is known to most as the “biggest 4-ball event in the US.”

“We have 530 (two-person) teams ready for a good time, and that’s what we want to happen most,” Slavic Invitational Co-Chairman David Leckich said.

Golfers will motor their way to Diamondhead Pine and Cardinal this weekend as both courses will welcome Slavic golfers for the first time. Chris Altese, his staff and DHCC members are elated.

“Our members and property owners are excited to show off Diamondhead and all we have to offer,” said Altese, who is the club’s the director of golf. “Hosting 450 golfers per day is a bit overwhelming, but accommodating the world’s largest amateur four-ball makes a pretty good fit for us.”

“Juga” golfers, The Point patois for Slavic Invitational, will also play Sunkist, Windance, and Grand Bear Friday and Saturday as golfers play their way into flights. Fallen Oak will wave the checkered flag to the Championship, 1st and 2nd Flights on Sunday while the other five courses will host almost 1000 golfers. Leckich, FoFo Gilich, Dow Hughes, Damian Hughes and Wayne Lyons will fine tune all golfers into their respective flights after 36 holes.

Last year’s champions, Lane Pippin and Naret Johnson, won’t defend their title this year, but Johnson hopes to put his hands on the hardware again with new partner Brandon Laird. Scott Jackson and Laird finished 2nd last year two shots behind at -23, but Jackson had season-ending shoulder surgery, leaving the door open for Johnson to snatch one of the Coast’s premier golfers.

“He’s very good,” Johnson said.

Josh Lampley and Colin Spiers will team again this year, narrowly missing out last year at -22.

“I’m playing pretty well right now,” said Lampley, who is coming off USGA Mid-Am and USGA 4-Ball competitions.

Lampley will head to Birmingham on Monday to represent Mississippi in the USGA State Team at Birmingham CC, and he hopes the Stanovich trophy will be on his hood.

Tim McCabe and Jake Kuharich hope to cross the finish line first this year, both having won with different partners. The duo finished 2nd in 2014.

Double shotgun starts will begin at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. at each course. The kitchen pit crew of Matthew Dubaz, Michael Kovacevich, Stag Pitalo and Richard Frentz will treat over 2000 linksters and their guests to prime rib and seafood Slavic-style Saturday and Sunday nights.

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