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Nick Beale-George Byrd team seek to repeat as Slavic Champions

Nick Beale and George Byrd are the defending Slavic Invitational Tournament champions.
Nick Beale and George Byrd are the defending Slavic Invitational Tournament champions. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Over 1,000 golfers will let the big dog eat, literally, beginning Friday as the 43rd Annual Slavic Invitational tees off on six area golf courses throughout the weekend.

Diamondhead’s Pine and Cardinal, Windance, Sunkist, Grand Bear and Fallen Oak will again welcome over 500 teams, making the event possibly the largest 4-ball tournament in the US.

Festivities begin Thursday night as ribs and chicken are the main attraction at Stag Night poolside at the Beau Rivage. Seafood highlights Friday night, and the Slavic aroma of Prime Rib with Crab and Cauliflower Soup will saturate the Beau Rivage ballroom Saturday as volunteers will serve over 2,000 golfers and guests.

David Leckich, Biloxi mayor Andrew “Fo-Fo” Gilich, Damain Hughes and Greg Breal will conduct another 54-hole symphony of gratifying and amusing golf and a five-day Coast vacation. Stag Pitalo, Mike Kovacevich, Richard Frentz and Mathew Dubaz will write one more culinary Opus that will include over 5,000 roast beef pistolettes.

“This has grown into a major economic weekend for Biloxi,”said Gilich. “But more than that, it highlights some of what Biloxi is about ~ celebration, competition, culture and fellowship.”

George Byrd and Nick Beale are the defending champions, winning by one stroke over Tim McCabe and Jake Kuharich at Fallen Oak.

Why do the golf gang, the kitchen crew and the Slavic women work overtime for the biggest Slavic week of the year? Simple: the tournament has raised over $160,000 for deserving children to attend school. When Maestros Faye Misko and Sue Ellen Radich point their batons Friday and Saturday nights, the melodies will feed over 2,000 people with a precision that would make the Los Angeles Philharmonic proud.

The Slavic Benevolent Association of Saint Nikolai will team with Merchants Food Service this year to make sure every guest leaves the course contented, quenched and placated whether they’ve made more bogies than pars.

“We just want to make sure that everyone has a good time and enjoys the Mississippi Gulf Coast and everything it has to offer,” said Leckich. “The prizes and golf are important, but not as significant as making friends and memories.”

Leckich mentioned that some teams from the Houston area are skipping this year for obvious reasons, and he and the entire Slavic crew are thinking about them and wishing them the best.

“We usually have several teams from that area, and we wish them a speedy recovery,” said Leckich. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Golfers will tee off at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day at five different courses. Fallen Oak will welcome the Championship, First and second Flights Sunday afternoon. Pairings, results and tee times can be found at slavicinvitational.com.

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