The 26th Burns Park Junior Stroke Golf Championship, pushing a field of 70 by press time, will be played Thursday and Friday.

The tournament, sponsored by the Greater Little Rock Optimist Club, is a designated event of the Arkansas State Golf Association, in which players can earn points toward the junior boys and junior girls player of the year awards.

It will begin Thursday with a shotgun start at 8 a.m.

Golfers 11 and under will play nine holes per day on the front nine of the Tournament Course. Those ages 12-18 will play 18 holes daily on the championship course.

Age groups include 16-18, 14-15, 12-13 and 11-and-under. Age group trophies will be given. The overall winners will come from the 14-15 and 16-18 groups.

Braden Byers of Greenwood and Peyton Weaver of Benton won the boys and girls titles, respectively, last year.

Ron Barentine, assistant pro at Burns Park, said at press time, among those expected to contend on the boys side are Ryan Spurlock of Maumelle, who leads the Junior Boys Player of the Year race; Win Johnson of Little Rock, who is fourth; Caleb Kubacak of Maumelle, Austin Freeman of Maumelle; and Jacob Lott of Cabot. Blake Brimley of Conway and Hyun Lee on North Little Rock are regulars at Burns and could surprise. Jake and Josh McNulty, sons of multiple-time ASGA champion Wes McNulty of Pine Bluff, are also entered.

The girls field includes Jose Roberson and Allie Weiner of Maumelle, who stand first and fourth, respectively, in the Junior Girls Player of the Year race. Others who could do well are Shelby Raborn of Maumelle, Olivia Parker of Conway and Elizabeth Moon and Lauren Horton of North Little Rock.

The event is a favorite on the Burns Park calendar, said Barentine, who estimated he had worked about a dozen of them.

"We hope to get a lot of future players that will play past their junior careers," he said. "We’ve got the staff and several volunteers. We don’t have any problems assisting them with getting around the course, rules officiating, keeping them well hydrated. And we feed them. We take care of them."