The best golfer at Jeremy Ranch Wednesday was second-year Senior pro Charles Coody.
Coody toured the 6,947-yard Jeremy Ranch layout with a 4-under-par 68 in Wednesday's pro-am, which won him $500 in pocket change.However, that doesn't necessarily mean Coody is the man to beat in the the $350,000 54-hole Showdown Classic that begins Friday morning and runs through Sunday.
The favorites, in no particular order would have to be Bruce Crampton, Orville Moody, Al Geiberger and Miller Barber. None of those four happened to play Wednesday; all were scheduled for the Thursday pro-am.
Crampton has won three times already this year and is red-hot, coming off his victory last week at the GTE Northwest Classic. He was the leading money winner his first year on the senior tour in 1986 with more than $450,000 and nearly duplicated that amount last year when he finished second. He also would like to make up for that costly bogey at No. 16 last year, which left him in second place, one shot behind Barber.
Moody also has three victories this year and until Bob Charles passed him up two weeks ago, he had been the senior leading money winner. Old Sarge is also the most prolific player among the seniors, having played in all 20 events in 1988.
Geiberger burst onto the senior scene with a bang last September winning three tournaments, including the Vantage, which earned him $135,000, more than three times his biggest payday on the regular tour. In 1988, he's only won once, at the Del Webb Arizona Classic, but has finished in the top four on six other occasions.
Geiberger might be at a bit of a disadvantage, because he wasn't going to get his first look at Jeremy Ranch until Thursday.
The other favorite doesn't have near the credentials of the other three this year. But Barber can't be ignored any time he tees it up at Jeremy.
The guy they call Mr. X always does well at Jeremy. In the first senior event here in 1982, he finished in a tie for second behind Billy Casper. In his last try here, of course, he won with a 6-under-par 210 score. In between he won the Best Ball with Ben Crenshaw in 1985 and set a record with Lee Trevino with a 59 in 1983.
The second tier of contenders would have to include Don Bies, Bobby Nichols, Gene Littler, Dale Douglass along with Coody.
Bies won the Northville Invitational in New York last month and just last week was second behind Crampton in Washington.
Nichols is remembered here for his victory with Curt Byrum in the last Best Ball event in 1986. His best finish this year was a tie for second at the Players Reunion in Dallas.
Littler has never finished out of the top 10 in his seven years on the senior tour and at age 58 his best days may be behind him. However, he still has the game to come out a winner this week. He is 15th on this year's money list.
Even though he is in just his third year on the senior tour, Douglass will be making his sixth straight appearance in this tournament. That's because he played for three years as Billy Johnston's junior partner when the tourney was a best ball event. Douglass won the Suncoast Classic in Florida early in the year and tied for second at the GTE Classic in Los Angeles.
Finally, there's Coody; remember him? The former Masters champion is still looking for his first Senior victory and would love to break through this week.
In Wednesday's round, he made his birdies in bunches at 9 and 10 and at 14, 15 and 16, with a lone bogey at No. 13.
He's not making any predictions on what it will take to win, but he did say, "I'll take three of these (68s) and just sit back and watch."
Among the other pros who could have a shot at winning this week are Larry Mowry, Butch Baird, Tommy Aaron, Peter Thomson, Homero Blancas and Ken Still, whose 69 Wednesday was the second best score.
SHOW NOTES: Coody also led his pro-am team to a tie for first with the team headed by Jim Cochran. Both teams finished with 21-under-par 51.
Members of Coody's team were Bill Wagner, Steve Wiggins, Don Holbrook and Gary Watts. Cochran's team memebers included Franklin Stephens, Bruce Sims, Rodney Morley and Ted Hansgen . . . Remarkably, there were three holes-in-one shot Wednesday and all came in the morning portion of the pro-am. Former Green Bay Packer star Jesse Whittenton knocked a 6-iron into the hole from 186 yards out at the 11th hole, Joe Jimenez hit an 8-iron 172 yards at the 4th hole and amateur Alan Olsen hit a 7-iron at the 11th hole, which was playing 148 yards for the amateurs . . . The District 9 Long Drive Championship is scheduled for Saturday evening on the 18th fairway after the final group has played the hole. Among the 23 contestants are nine Utahns, including state champion Kurt Moore of Ogden.