The 42nd annual Dr. Harry C. Priess Businessmen’s Memorial Day Golf Tournament kicks off here Saturday morning with a full slate of golfers who will compete in eight flights for top prizes. Ray Hawkins, Heart of Texas Golf Association secretary/treasurer, said this year’s group of players filled up the 128 slots more than two weeks ago. “The golf course is much improved over what it was before last week’s three inch rain. The greens and tee boxes are in excellent condition, thanks to course superintendent J.T. Epley,” Hawkins said. He called the greens the strength of the Brady Municipal Golf Course. “Epley and his crew of volunteers (Craig Steffens, Terry Virdell and Mike Carlson) have been watering as much as possible, but it was the rain that was the main cause of the greenery,” the association official said. Practice rounds will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday (today) with the tournament precursor being the Shootouts, three of them, starting at 4 p.m. This event has drawn much attention over the past couple of years as 10 golfers start from No. 1 tee with one player being eliminated on each hole until the winner of No. 9 emerges as the winner. The official tournament will begin Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. with the championship, president’s, first and second flights heading out. The lower flights (third through sixth) will follow in the afternoon’s round, being after the first group finishes which is around 1:30 p.m. The championship flight, 16 of the top golfers, will compete in medal play (counting each shot) throughout the tournament. The remainder will be match play (per hole) until Monday’s round which will be medal play like the championship flight. With the exception of the championship flight, the winners of Saturday’s play will move on to Sunday’s championship brackets while the losers will continue in the consolation brackets. Those winning their matches on Sunday will advance to their respective brackets on Monday while the losers will wait until next year. Monday’s round will tee off at 8 a.m. starting with the sixth flight consolation and continuing through about 11 a.m. when the championship players begin. The presentation of trophies and prizes will be presented immediately following play in each flight. The annual tourney, in its 42nd year, was re-named about 10 years ago in order to honor longtime Brady dentist and golf enthusiast Dr. Harry C. Priess, who died Feb. 22, 1988. For much of the early years of the tournament, Priess served as the entry chairman. The tourney is an event that normally attracts many former Bradyites who find that time agreeable to return home for a visit. Friends of Brady folks also come during this period and participate in the fun-tournament. Steve Hendley, of Brady, who copped the championship in 1998, will not compete this May. He said recently he had turned his attention to team roping and is giving golf a rest for a time. Four former champions are back this year. Danny Neal of Round Rock won the event in 1978. Richard Roper of Brady also returns. He was the victor in 1990, 1993 and again last year. Roper’s older son, Richard N. Roper, Jr., of Stephenville, a winner in 1994, is also back this May. Plano’s Carl Crawley, the champ in 1997, is also back. Last year’s champ, Richard Roper, edged out Crawley with a dramatic 20-foot putt from off the green on the final hole. Crawley then missed a short putt to give Roper the one stroke margin. Roper finished with a four-under par 209 while Crawley was one shot back. Hendley was third at 213 and Ron Brodrick of Big Spring took fourth at 214. Other winners and runner-ups in last year’s event were: President’s Flight: Eddie Sayles, Brady, 76; Bill Gerron, Granbury, 78. First Flight: Boyd Finch, Stanton, 72; Skip Priess, Fair Oak Ranch, 76. Second Flight: Glenn Wallace, Brady, 76; Chris Knowles, San Angelo, 77. Third Flight: G. Frank Bridges, Goldthwaite, 80; T. Flemming, Lamesa, and John Peacock, Spring, tie at 81. Fourth Flight: James Torres, Brady, 85; Jim Gay, Dallas, 86. Fifth Flight: John Wayne Stepp, Eden, 78; Gary Tinsley, Garrison, 81. Sixth Flight: David Daniel, Brady, 87; Richie Journeay, Hobbs, N. Mex., 95. Activities scheduled for the golfers and their families include a cocktail buffet at the Heart of Texas Civic Center, starting at 7 p.m. Friday (tonight), and a meal, also at the civic center, at 7 p..m. Sunday.