E.A. Sports Today

Cool cars, full field

Four new models introduced to the Sunny King Charity Classic flights; field expected to fill by end of the week

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The players in the top division of the 40th Sunny King Charity Classic will again – and probably always – be playing in the Ford Mustang flight, but players in four other flights will be introduced to new models in their divisions this year.

The Championship Flight has carried the Ford Mustang nameplate since 2012 and is the longest continuous model in its flight since then, but the Championship B breakoff will carry its own name for the first time (Ford Expedition). The first flight will be named Acura RDX (from MDX), the fifth flight Toyota Tacoma (from Tundra) and the sixth flight Honda Civic (from Toyota 4-Runner).

This year’s tournament is scheduled for July 13-15 at Silver Lakes, Cider Ridge Golf Club and Anniston Country Club.

The Avalon, F-150 and Pilot have remained with their respective flights since 2015, although the Avalon has been a flight name since 2013 and the F-150 since 2014. RDX is returning to the lineup for the first time since 2012 and Civic is back for the first time since 2014. The Tacoma is making its SKCC debut.

“We try to pick the hot cars at the moment,” said Lynn Freeman, operations manager of the Sunny King Automotive Group. “There’s not a very methodical way we (put model with flight) other than the championship flight is probably always going to be Mustang; it’s just a hot little car.”

The RDX is gaining traction at the dealerships, the F-150 has always been a popular brand and the Avalons and Civics both have new body styles this year.

“That’s our rhyme and reason,” Freeman said.

The field is almost full

As of mid-morning Monday only seven spots remained to fill the 204-team maximum field and tee time chairman Keith Howell anticipated those to be taken by the end of the week.

The championship flight field is expected to be stacked once again, although some familiar names are absent this year. Among the teams missing are 2015 champions Ott and Dalton Chandler and perennial contenders Jaylon Ellison and P.J. Shields. Ott Chandler is a five-time winner of the event and Ellison is a four-time past champion.

Ty Cole and Gary Wigington are the two-time reigning champions and will be looking to become the third team to win three in a row. Wigington and Randy Reaves did it between 2000 and 2002. Eric Hamilton and Patrick Cushman did it from 1994 to 1996.

The tournament typically is played the weekend after July 4, but because of where the holiday falls on the calendar and other considerations this year’s event was pushed back to the following weekend for its latest start in tournament history. Howell said he hadn’t noticed a difference in the return of the registrations due to the later date.

Because this is a milestone anniversary year several novelties are being introduced to the festivities. Organizers have discovered a file of tournament photo CDs going back to 2006 and plan on putting together a slideshow to show during the social events. Consideration is being given to expanding the tee drop at Cider Ridge 16 to the other courses. And there are plans for fireworks.

“Mrs. (Patty) King is super excited about the anniversary,” Freeman said. “From our end, the Sunny King Automotive Group, we’re trying to make this one a little more special as far as all that’s included. We’re just stepping it up a little bit and recognizing the anniversary.”

Tournament officials anticipate the big check they present at the end of Sunday’s round to push the event’s lifetime charitable contribution past $2.5 million

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