BMW CHARITY PRO-AM Dates: May 12-18, 2008 Location: Thornblade Club, Greenville, S.C. The Carolina Country Club, Spartanburg, S.C. Bright's Creek Golf Club, Mill Spring, N.C. Purse: $675,000 First Prize: $121,500 11th of 30 events 2007 Winner: Nick Flanagan Television: GOLF CHANNEL / Coverage of all Four Rounds
DARRON STILES MOVES TO NO. 1 ON MONEY LIST -- With his runner-up finish in the Ft. Smith Classic presented by Stephens, Inc. on Sunday, Florida Southern grad Darron Stiles became the leading money winner on the Nationwide Tour at the one-third mark in the 2008 season with $207,132. Stiles overtook Australian Jarrod Lyle, who had held the spot every week since winning the Nationwide Tour's second event, the Mexico Open, in early February. Stiles won the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship two weeks later. He was sixth on the money list heading to Ft. Smith, but jumped ahead of five international players who currently hold down spots Nos. 2 through 6.
BMW CHARITY PRO-AM / THE "PEBBLE BEACH" OF THE NATIONWIDE TOUR -- Since going to its celebrity format in 2001, the BMW Charity Pro-Am has evolved into one of the best draws for celebrities in all of golf. Scheduled to compete this week are Joe Pesci, Dennis Quaid, Luke Wilson, Greg Kinnear, Kurt Russell, Catherine Bell, Oliver Hudson, Wayne Gretzky, Janet Jones-Gretzky, Ty Gretzky, Kevin Sorbo, Dave Coulier, Stefanie Schaeffer, Patrick Warburton, Michael Pena, Sterling Sharpe, Kordell Stewart, Jason Dohring, Josh Kelley, Cheech Marin, Javier Colon, Steve Azar, Gary Valentine, Mark Rypien, Branford Marsalis, Pat Green, George Rogers, Ben Wright and Jennifer Mills.
GRETZKY FATHER / MOTHER / SON TRIO A FIRST FOR BMW -- Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and his wife, Janet, a member of last year's winning team, will be joined by their 17-year-old son, Ty. The Gretzkys are the first father/mother/son entry in the tournament's history and the third set of father/son participants (2004 - Jack Nicklaus/Steve Nicklaus and Gary/Marc Player). Gretzky's fondness for the Nationwide Tour now extends to the Tour's new Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic in his native Ontario, Canada, June 23-29. Son Ty attends Shattuck-St. Mary's school in Faribault, Minn., where, surprise, he plays on the hockey team.
COLT KNOST COMING ON STRONG -- After a slow start to the 2008 season, reigning U.S. Amateur champion Colt Knost has really turned it on in his last three Nationwide Tour events. With a missed cut, a T21 and a T37, the SMU graduate was 81st on the money list in late March. Things changed quickly in April and May when he finished 4th, T25 and won on Sunday in Ft. Smith, AR, closing with his second 65 of the tournament. Knost is now well inside "THE 25" at No. 7 on the money list, up from 44th last week. His prospects for a 2009 PGA TOUR card took a decidedly positive turn. Knost, who also won last year's U.S. Public Links Championship, recently took his belly putter out of his golf bag in favor of a more traditional putter.
GOYDOS GOT HIS PROFESSIONAL START ON THE NATIONWIDE TOUR -- THE PLAYERS Championship runner-up Paul Goydos played the Nationwide Tour full time in 1991 and 1992 before earning his PGA TOUR card via the Qualifying Tournament in late '92. In 54 starts, he had one win, a second and two third-place finishes. In '91 he was 39th on the money list and then improved to 17th in '92 when only 10 PGA TOUR cards were awarded to the leading Nationwide Tour money winners. The Long Beach, Calif., native has gone on to earn $8.1 million on the PGA TOUR, including Sunday's $1,026,000 paycheck, in a very steady 16-year career (100th among Career Money Leaders).
JOINING GOYDOS AT THE PLAYERS -- The first eight players who finished behind PLAYERS Championship winner Sergio Garcia were Nationwide Tour alums: 2 - Goydos, 3-Jeff Quinney, 4-Briny Baird, 5-Stephen Ames, T6-Ben Crane, Ernie Els, Tom Lehman, and Brett Quigley. Among those in the next group at T10 were fellow alums Chad Campbell, Greg Kraft and Dean Wilson.
NATIONWIDE TOUR PLAYERS CUP NAMES TROPHY DESIGNER -- In keeping with the Nationwide Tour Players Cup's emphasis on promoting its home state and the many things it has to offer, the West Virginia Division of Tourism conducted a competition, open to West Virginia artisans, to select a Players Cup trophy designer. Moundsville, W. Va., glassmaker Fred Wilkerson, Jr. was named the winner. Wilkerson's glass trophy will be awarded to the champion of the new $1 million Nationwide Tour Players Cup, which is scheduled for July 7-13 at the Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport. Plans are being made to display the trophy at venues around West Virginia the week before the Tour's first $1-million event.
U.S. OPEN EXEMPTIONS -- The U.S.G.A. recently issued a press release about entries for June's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. Of the 58 fully-exempt players, 23 (or 40 percent) have Nationwide Tour roots.
INTERESTING IDEA -- The PGA TOUR's event in Hartford, Conn., has come up with a few unique player amenities and one in particular that will benefit recent Nationwide Tour grads to the TOUR. Each will receive a GPS system complete with directions to every PGA TOUR event preloaded.
NEXT WEEK -- The Nationwide Tour travels to the nation's capital next week for the Melwood Prince George's County Open in Mitchellville, Md. The Country Club of Woodmore hosts the second-year event that was won by Paul Claxton last year.