BRADENTON -- Aaron Bishop wasted little time in filling out his application for the City of Bradenton Men’s Amateur.
You could hardly blame the Wisconsin native.
“I think it was the first week of October,” said Bishop, who fired a 134 total for a four-shot victory last year, about sending in his application.
The 14th annual battle to determine Bradenton’s champion is set for today and Sunday over 36 holes at River Run Golf Links.
Last November, Bishop fired a course-tying 64 in the first round before holding on in the final round to earn his first-ever city title.
“It’ll be the first time playing a tournament as the defending champion,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll feel any different, but I’m going to be trying to win it again.”
Since that triumph, Bishop has kept grinding at the sport and was in contention to pull off the city double -- grabbing the City of Sarasota Men’s Amateur crown months after snagging victory in Bradenton.
However, Cardinal Mooney alum and current professional Chris Kennedy turned in a four-round total that bested Bishop toward the end of his stellar amateur career.
But when Bishop tees off today, it will mark the first time he’s played the River Run layout since June’s Two-Man where he lost in a playoff with partner Joe Clarkson to John Van Vranken and Jack Mylott.
Nonetheless, Bishop is geared up to return to the place he navigated so well last fall. “I’ve played the golf course enough times, and I really like the layout,” Bishop said. “Once I go up there, I’m going to feel like if I had played it yesterday.”
Head pro Clint Wright estimated 90 entries in the field, down from 94 in 2010.
The tight golf course is in prime shape to test golfers this weekend.
That includes three Lakewood Ranch High seniors.
Connor Baldwin, Kyle Benson and Hunter Sagar are all in the field -- just over a week from helping the Mustangs become the first boys team in Manatee County history to win a state championship.
The history, though, also includes a 103-0 record this season. None of that matters as the trio will compete against one another in Bradenton’s championship. Baldwin finished third in last year’s event.
The city tournament is an amateur-only affair and begins off both Nos. 1 and 10 in the morning both days.
“It’s a strong field, absolutely,” Wright said.
The course will be open for public play starting at noon, Wright said, for anybody wishing to play. Tee times for the city tournament run from 7:28-8:45 a.m. both days.