Last year’s victor, Drew Mitchell, an assistant golf course superintendent from Salado, will not be back to defend his title in the 43rd annual Dr. Harry C. Priess Memorial Day Golf Classic that gets underway here Saturday morning at the Brady Municipal Golf Course. This year’s group is a full boat, 128 golfers from across Texas and a a trio from out-of-state. The tournament filled up in a hurry, according to course manager Gwen Bush. There still are a number on the waiting list. Last fall’s rains and continued showers during the winter and spring has brought the old golf course to life again after several years of drouth conditions. Course superintendent J.T. Epley has pronounced the nine-hole layout in its best shape in the past decade. He added that a new satellite system installed last winter enables him to water the greens automatically which has helped greatly. Epley and his volunteer helpers have turned the golf course into a sea of green. The roughs will be tougher this year because of the moisture. Practice rounds will be played Friday by tee times only, none after 3 p.m. Three shootouts (10 players in each) will begin at 4 p.m. The shootout events have drawn much attention over the past few years as 10 golfers start from No. 1 tee with one layer being eliminated on each hole until the winner on No. 9 is declared. Alex Sedillo of Kyle was the winner of the first shootout with Barry Owens of Waxahachie taking the second and Mike Gartman of Dallas the victor of the third. The official tournament begins Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. with the championship, first, second and third flights leading the way. The lower flights, including the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh flights, following in the afternoon, beginning about 1:30 p.m. The championship flight, 16 of the top golfers, will compete in medal play thoughout the tournament. The rest of the field will be match play for the first two rounds with the winners on Sunday advancing to Monday where they will play medal. After Saturday’s play, the winners will move on to the upper bracket on Sunday with the losers dropping to the consolation bracket. Losers on Sunday will have to watch from the galley on Monday. Monday’s round will begin at 8 a.m., starting with the seventh flight consolation and continuing through the morning when the championship golfers begin. The presentation of trophies and prizes will be awarded immediately after each flight finishes. A tournament that begin back in 1959, the 43rd affair was re-named a bit more than a decade ago to honor longtime Brady dentist and golf enthusiast, Dr. Harry C. Priess, who passed away on Feb. 22, 1988. For many years, Priess served as the tournament’s entry chairman. The tournament lost another avid golfer when two-time champion, Ferd Slocum, died earlier this year after a long battle with cancer. The tourney is an event that honors the entire family, attracting many former Bradyites to return home for a visit with friends. Only three former champions have enterred this year’s event. They are Danny Neal of Brady, who won in 1978; Richard V. Roper of Brady, the champ in 1990, 1993 and 1999; and Carl Crawley of Plano, the winner in 1997. In winning last year’s event, Mitchell led from start to finish. The 27-year-old fired a four-under par 67 in the opening round then followed that with a pair of steady even-par 71s to win by three strokes over three-time champ Richard V. Roper of Brady. Mitchell had an up-and-down round on Monday, carding eight birdies but having six bogeys and a double bogey. His three-day total was 67-71-71’209. Roper’s was 71-69-71’212 Finishing in third place last year was Albert Bosmans of McCamey, at 77-70-70’222. Brady golf coach Tim Kilgore was fourth with a 75-74-74’223. Brady’s Karlton Steffens was sixth at 226 while Jeremy Roper of Stephenville was seventh at 228. Other flight winners and runners-up in the 2000 event were: President’s Flight: 1. Al Pearson, 72; 2. Barry Jackson, 75; 3. Skip Priess, 76; Pete Ledezma, 77. First Flight: 1. Julius Scott, 74; 2. James Torres, 77; 3. Emitt Herod, 77; 4. Jeff Hurta, 79. Second Flight: 1. Mark Barker, 75; 2. Erbey Valdez, 86; 3. Joel Robinett, 86; 4. Bo Rose, 89. Third Flight: 1. Joe Barekman, 83; 2. John Peacock, 85; 3. Davey Cornelius, 87; 4. Donald Owens, 91. Fourth Flight: 1. Bill Roberts, 86; 2. Jim Gay, 86; 3. Mike Gartman, 87; 4. Gabe Moreno, 87. Fifth Flight: 1. Wayne Rawlings, 84; 2. Elliott Jones, 88; 3. Norman Shelton, 88; 4. Steve Mosley, 102. Sixth Flight: 1. Doug Pentecost, 87; 2. David Wainscott, 95; 3. Roy Short, 98; 4. Eddie Mireles, 103. Activities scheduled for the big event include a cocktail buffet at the Heart of Texas Civic Center at 7 p.m. Friday (tonight); and a dinner also at the civic center starting about 7 p.m. on Sunday.