Adams Pro Tour returns to The Bluffs for Merrill Lynch Open

The Adams Pro Tour for aspiring professional golfers will make its annual stop at The Bluffs on April 26-29 for the Merrill Lynch Open.

The Adams Tour is a satellite professional golf tour and features events in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Louisiana. The Adams Pro Tour is a proving ground for young golfers to improve their games to prepare them for life as pros. Because the prize money is much smaller, golfers travel by car from event to event, and most do not have caddies.

Around since 1994, the Adams Pro Tour presents one of the best development opportunities for golf professionals and stars of tomorrow to hone their skills. Past players on the tour include Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Ryan Palmer. Many of the APT players also have provisional status for tournaments on the PGA and Web.com tours.

Five of the tour’s 2017 events take place in Louisiana including other stops in Westlake, Alexandria, Houma and Mandeville. This year’s MLO is the fifth stop on the 14-event tour and offers a total purse of $125,000 with $25,000 going to the champion.

The tournament once again will present a strong field, including the APT leading money winner and hottest player, Michael Arnaud, of Covington. He’s won just over $40,000 this year through four events, including the Hebert Open earlier this month in Westlake. He also tied for second at the recent Victoria Open in Texas.

Jordan Russell, who won last year’s tournament, which was shortened to 54 holes due to severe thunderstorms, and 2015 champion B.J. Staten, are slated to be in this year’s field. APT events regularly feature a number of international golfers, and the 2017 MLO is scheduled to include players from South Africa, France, Brazil and Venezuela.

There also are plenty of other golfers from Louisiana in the field beside Arnaud: amateur Jonathan Bale, of Baton Rouge; Grady Brame Jr., of Hammond; Dante Caldera, of Zachary; Blake Kelley, of Mandeville; Myles Lewis, of New Orleans; Landon Lyons, of Baton Rouge; Brian Rowell, of Broussard; Michael Smith, of Lafayette; and Chuck Spears, of Pineville.

Tournament week gets under way with the Merrill Lynch Pro-Am from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Practice rounds are scheduled for Monday, followed by the Coca-Cola Junior Clinic from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Hillar Moore Jr. Memorial Pro Am is scheduled for Tuesday with a shotgun start scheduled for 12:15 p.m.

The competitive tournament begins at 8 a.m. on April 26-27 mornings. After the second round is completed, the field will be cut to the low 35 percent of scores and ties of those that started. The third and fourth rounds are set for April 28-29 beginning at 8 a.m. with an awards presentation on April 29 at 2 p.m. outside the clubhouse.

More information about the tournament and the APT are available at apt.golf, and there will be regular Facebook and Twitter updates throughout the event. Attendance is free.

Volunteers are also needed to work any and all of the days for the Merrill Lynch Open. For more information, contact Kaitlyn Guerin at (225) 215-1221 or kguerin@marybird.com.

Send sports news, photos and stats to Howard Arceneaux at harceneaux@theadvocate.com.