Classic tees off today

37th annual Cottonwood Classic starts at 7 a.m.

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For most Americans, the Fourth of July means a celebration of the country's independence. For golfers in and around Craig, the holiday also represents another special occasion -- the Cottonwood Classic.

The 37th annual tournament at the Yampa Valley Golf Course starts at 7 a.m. today with a field of more than 200 golfers. Course pro Tom Dockstader said golfers from eight states tee off hoping for a share of the $14,440 purse.

"We are offering the maximum winnings allowed by the USGA," Dockstader said.

Increased entry fees upped the prize money for everybody in the tournament.

Dockstader said the field this year was "top heavy," with 60 golfers at a nine-handicap or better.

One of those golfers is returning champion Chris Smith from Grand Junction. Smith chipped in a shot from 70 yards out on the second playoff hole for the win.

It's been three years since a local golfer won the tournament and that golfer, Preston Ivy, is one of the favorites, Dockstader said. Ivy finished in a tie for third last year.

The golfers are separated into eight flights, with the championship flight's top prize set at $650.

If the final day's scores are close, it could provide some fireworks before the real fireworks show starts Sunday night.

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