Bob Cooper has a new partner for the 41st annual Firecracker 4-Ball, but that has hardly affected the Monroe lefthander in the past. Tee times are 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tournament festivities begin Friday with the traditional pre-tournament scramble.
Cooper is a nine-time Firecracker winner with six different partners — both tournament records. Contacted Wednesday evening, Cooper said he would pair with Tanner McDonald of Monroe this weekend.
McDonald played for the ULM golf team as a freshman two years ago.
“I've never played with Tanner before, but I've watched him grow up and he has grown up watching me play,” Cooper said.
Cooper and Jody Moss had planned to defend their title after winning last year's Firecracker by eight strokes, but Moss was unavailable to play due to business obligations.
Last year, Cooper and Moss fired an eight-under-par 64 on Saturday and never looked back en route to shooting 127. Runner-ups Phillip Lester and Ken Buchan carded a 135. Ryan Nelson and Brett Munson and Jim Bennett and Jay Yeldell tied for third at 136.
Besides Moss, Cooper has won the tournament with Hubert “Hook” Chaffold (2008, 2009), Scott Sills (2000, 2001), Tom Bryant (1994, 1996), Mike Creighton (1989) and Terry Peddy (1980).
Cooper returned to Monroe on Wednesday after missing a playoff by one stroke at a U.S. Senior Open sectional qualifier earlier this week.
Dale Cagnolatti, who won the W.T. “Bill” Carpenter Memorial Individual Tournament at the MCC on June 3, will team with Alex Malmay. Cagnolatti defeated Chase Bostick on the second playoff hole to spoil Cooper's bid for a third straight championship. Cooper shot 149, two strokes behind Cagnolatti and Bostick.
Bostick has entered the tournament with Brett Clausing. However, Bostick's status is pending after suffering a lacerated foot on Tuesday.
“Chase says he's going to play, but I saw his foot and it doesn't look good,” Clausing said.
Another local duo, Steve Freeland and Fayette “The Dragon” Jordan, is seeking to get over the hump after finishing runner-up three times over the past 12 years.
Other teams expected to challenge include Mike Sebren and Jay Yeldell, J.D. Hixon and Matt Mixon,
Ryan Nelson and Larry Foster and Randy Bailey and George Price.
The extreme heat and lack of rain have left the course rock hard.
“It's fast and short,” Jordan said. “It's easier than it should be to hit one long.”
One of the area's oldest tournaments, the inaugural Firecracker was played in 1930 as an individual tournament — just two years after the MCC opened its doors in 1928. The 4-Ball format was adopted in 1971.