Nationwide Tour rolls into Nationwide's hometowntext sizeJuly 11, 2007
By Adam Wallace PGA TOUR Staff
The Nationwide Tour's only invitational event, the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, gets underway tomorrow at Ohio State University Golf Club's Scarlet Course in the hometown of the Tour's umbrella sponsor, Nationwide.
The Scarlet Course has been host to multiple men's and women's NCAA Division I Championships dating back to 1941, as well as last month's U.S. Open sectional qualifier. The 7,141-yard, par-72 Scarlet Course was redesigned by former OSU great Jack Nicklaus in 2006. It is Golf Digest's top-rated collegiate golf course in the U.S. Nicklaus, a Columbus native, is the tournament's Honorary Chairman.
The OSU Scarlet is no stranger to quite a few of the players who are in the field. Thirty played in either an NCAA Championship or the recent U.S. Open qualifier. A number of others have competed in other collegiate competitions hosted at the OSU course.
Eight First-Team All-Americans have accepted invitations to play this week. Heading the pack is Division I individual champion Jamie Lovemark, a freshman at the University of Southern California. Two weeks after winning the national collegiate title in early June, the Californian was a playoff runner-up to former U.S. Ryder Cup team member Chris Riley in the Nationwide Tour's Rochester, Minn. event. He finished tied for 45th in last week's AT&T National on the PGA TOUR.
Lovemark is joined in the field by fellow All-Americans Chris Kirk and Brendon Todd of Georgia, Daniel Summerhays of Brigham Young, Billy Horschel of Florida, Dustin Johnson of Coastal Carolina, Dawie Van Der Walt of Lamar and Niklas Lemke of Arizona State.
Nick Flanagan returns to the Nationwide Tour this week, two weeks later than expected due to a hernia operation. The Aussie will be seeking to regain the No. 1 spot on the money list he relinquished to Paul Claxton during his four weeks away from the Tour. Currently second on the money list behind Claxton the 23-year-old continues his pursuit of his third win of 2007 and the automatic promotion to the PGA TOUR that comes with it. A little more than $21,000 separates Flanagan and Claxton, who assumed the top spot two weeks ago when he won the Peek'n Peak Classic.
The Tour's youngest player, Jason Day, 19, captured his first Nationwide Tour victory last week in Cleveland, making him the Tour's youngest winner and the youngest ever of a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event. Day's win in the Legend Financial Group Classic vaulted him from No. 33 to well inside 'THE 25' at No. 8. The previous record-holder was James Oh, who was 21 when he won the 2003 Mark Christopher Charity Classic.
History will be made this week as the Pappas brothers, Brenden, Deane and Craigen, join the Nicklaus (Jackie II, Gary and Michael) and Turnesa (Jim, Joe and Mike) families as the only trio of brothers to play in the same TOUR-sanctioned event over the last 64 years. The Nicklaus boys did so at the 2003 and '04 BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs, while the Turnesas last did so in the 1943 Chicago Victory Open.
Nationwide, which is committed to its umbrella sponsorship of the Nationwide Tour through 2012, is one of the largest diversified financial and insurance service companies in the world. Based in Columbus, it is ranked No. 104 on the Fortune 500 list.
The winner will take home $126,000 of the $700,000 purse, giving a lot of players a very good chance to move themselves up the money list and into 'THE 25.' A top-25 finish on the final Nationwide Tour money list in November secures 2008 PGA TOUR playing privileges.
All four rounds of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational will be televised on Golf Channel.