VALDOSTA, Ga. -- The Nationwide Tour tees it up this week at the longest course in TOUR history, Kinderlou Forest Golf Club, site of the South Georgia Classic presented by First State Bank. At a monstrous 7,781 yards and a par of 72, Kinderlou Forest GC, designed by Davis Love III, was the sixth most difficult course on Tour last year, averaging 73.55. It is more than 300 yards longer than Quail Hollow Club, the venue for this week's PGA TOUR event, the Wachovia Championship. Kinderlou was recently ranked No. 14 on Golfweek magazine's "Best Courses You Can Play" list.
John Kimbell outlasted the field in 2007, getting around Kinderlou Forest in 278 (10 under) strokes to win the inaugural event by one over Australian Matt Jones, who went on to earn his PGA TOUR card via "THE 25." Kimbell, a north Georgia native and former UPS worker, is looking to become the first player in Tour history to successfully defend his title.
The South Georgia Classic has drawn the best field of year. Seven of 2008's eight tournament winners are playing and vying to become two-time winners. Also, 17 of the top-20 players on the money list are in the field. Jeff Klauk, ninth on the money list, finished tied for third a year ago, and, despite the length of the course, he is focused on the challenging greens. "The greens have a lot of slope to them," Klauk said. "You could leave yourself with a lot of difficult putts."
Last week at the Henrico County Open, Greg Chalmers added his name to the list of Australian players who have faired well on the Nationwide Tour this year. Chalmers joined countrymen Jarrod Lyle (Mexico Open), Ewan Porter (Moonah Classic), Gavin Coles (Chitimacha Louisiana Open) and Aron Price (Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship) in the 2008 winners' circle. Americans Scott Dunlap (Panama Movistar Championship) Darron Stiles (HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship) and Robert Damron (Athens Regional Foundation Classic) round out the winners entered in this week's event.
Only one player has made all eight cuts this year. Casey Wittenberg is proving to be the most consistent player on Tour thus far. Currently, he is ranked inside the top 25 in seven statistical categories. Former Florida Gator Matt Every is also enjoying a good start to his 2008 season. Every sits in seventh place on the money list, the Tour's highest ranked player without a win.
GOLF CHANNEL will televise all four rounds of the South Georgia Classic starting Thursday at 1:00 p.m. ET. Following stops in Athens, Ga., Richmond, Va., and Valdosta this week, the Nationwide Tour continues it swing through the Southeast with the Fort Smith Classic in Arkansas.