The Nationwide Tour reaches the two-thirds mark in the 2007 season this week as it travels to Wichita, Kan. for the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open, concluding a three-event swing through the nation's heartland.
Crestview Country Club, a 6,886-yard, par-71 layout designed by Robert Trent Jones, will host the Nationwide Tour for the seventh consecutive year. Wichita is one of four cities that have conducted Nationwide Tour events every year since the Tour was launched in 1990, joined by Knoxville, Tenn, Springfield, Mo. and Boise, Idaho. Last year, Crestview was the fourth shortest course on Tour and played to a 69.79 stroke average, also fourth lowest of the year.
Defending champion Kevin Johnson headlines the field of 156 players who will be competing for a $500,000 purse. Nick Flanagan and last week's winner Roland Thatcher are within one win of an automatic victory promotion to the PGA TOUR, however, both are idle this week. Johnson returns to Wichita seeking to become the first Nationwide Tour player to successfully defend his title.
The Tour's second-leading money winner and runner-up to Thatcher last week, Jason Day, has been on a tear of late. In his last five starts, the 19-year-old Aussie became the youngest winner of a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event when he won the Legend Financial Group Classic in Cleveland and has a second, T5, T9 and T15. Last weekend in Omaha, he shot 62-63 and almost caught Thatcher, tying the 36-hole Nationwide Tour record in the process.
Nicholas Thompson, No.5 on the money list, is looking for his second win and seventh top-25 finish of the year this week.
Wichita native Chez Reavie returns "home" this week sitting in the No.8 spot on the money list with a strong grip on his 2008 PGA TOUR card. Also returning home is Kansas-born, bred and educated (U. of Kansas) Chris Thompson. Thompson is coming off his best finish of the year, a T8 at the Cox Classic last week, which featured a first-round 60, one off the Nationwide Tour single-round record.
The Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open is the 21st of 32 Nationwide Tour events this year. With the season's end in sight, a lot of players are under pressure to pick up their play down the stretch in order to secure a top-25 spot on the money list, which ensures a PGA TOUR card for 2008. For many in the field, the winner's check of $90,000 would go a long way toward reaching THE 25.
The Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr. Pepper in Springfield, MO was the first of three straight Midwest events. Tom Scherrer captured the victory.
Next week the Nationwide Tour travels east to its only event in Pennsylvania, the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic near Scranton.