What: Knoxville Open presented by Food City When: June 16-22 Where: Fox Den Country Club, Knoxville, Tenn. Purse: $500,000 First Prize: $90,000 15th of 30 events 2007 Winner: Chez Reavie
TOUR SEASON REACHES HALFWAY POINT -- The Knoxville Open presented by Food City is the 15th of 30 Nationwide Tour events in 2008. As the Tour reaches the halfway point it's a logical time to look at who is in the running for THE 25. David Mathis sits atop the money list trailed closely by No. 2 Jeff Klauk and No. 3 Darron Stiles. Three Australians, Greg Chalmers/4th, Jarrod Lyle/6th and Ewan Porter/9th are among the current top-nine money winners, with another Aussie, Aron Price, at 11. The international contingent also includes England's Greg Owen/7th, Canadian Bryan DeCorso/10th, Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge/17th and India's Arjun Atwal/18th. Familiar names from the college and amateur ranks are within THE 25 including Colt Knost/12th, Casey Wittenberg/13th, Matt Every/16th, Matt Weibring/19th and Ricky Barnes/23rd. Currently D.J. Brigman occupies the bubble spot of No. 25 on the money list. Among those players on the outside looking in are Bob May/27th, Daniel Summerhays/31st, Bryce Molder/33rd, Bubba Dickerson/34th and Esteban Toledo/37th. At season's end the top-25 money winners will earn PGA TOUR cards for 2009. There have been 14 different winners in 14 events to date, nine of which have been one-shot or playoff victories.
EIGHT U.S. OPEN CONTESTANTS IN FIELD -- Eight active Nationwide Tour players who played in last week's U.S. Open are scheduled to be in Knoxville this week. Five made the cut -- Justin Hicks/T74, Chris Kirk/T78, Ian Leggatt/T74, Jarrod Lyle/T48 and D.A. Points/T69. D.J. Brigman Scott Piercy and Peter Tomasulo did not play on the weekend.
ROOKIE CHRIS KIRK A NATIVE OF KNOXVILLE -- Nationwide Tour rookie Chris Kirk was born in Knoxville. He went on to enjoy a terrific career at the University of Georgia where he was a first-team All-American in his junior and senior seasons. After a good start in New Zealand (T15) and Australia (T26), the conditionally-exempt Kirk has only played in four other Nationwide Tour events and missed the cut in every one. Not being able to set one's schedule is always a challenge, particularly for the young players looking to make their mark. Kirk qualified for last week's U.S. Open and played all four rounds (T78). Perhaps Knoxville will be the start of good things for the current resident of St. Simons Island, Ga., who has so much promise.
HUNTER HAAS WITHDRAWS -- Hunter Haas, a two-time winner of the Knoxville Open, has withdrawn from the event. No reason was available prior to distribution of "Storylines". Haas was a Sectional Qualifying medalist for last week's U.S. Open. He recorded 80-70 -- 150 to miss the cut at Torrey Pines by a shot. Haas won at Fox Den CC in 2004 and 2006. Editor's Note: Haas has no relation to Jay and Bill Haas.
KNOXVILLE / ONE OF THE ORIGINAL TOURNAMENTS -- Knoxville is one of four cities which have held a Nationwide Tour event every year since the Tour was born in 1990. Knoxville is joined by Springfield, Mo., Wichita, Kan., and Boise, Idaho.
NEW ENGLAND NATIVE FRAN QUINN PLAYS HIS WAY INTO HARTFORD -- Massachusetts native (Holden, Mass.) Fran Quinn posted the lowest score (66) in Monday's qualifier for this week's PGA TOUR event in Hartford, Conn. Quinn, a Nationwide Tour regular, told the Hartford Courant he planned to take a week off before heading to next week's event in Canada but "couldn't pass up the opportunity to wheel it" in Hartford as he's played the event a few times in the past. Quinn is 41st on the Nationwide Tour money list after nine starts.
THIS WEEK IN NATIONWIDE TOUR HISTORY -- On June 18, 2000 Deane Pappas wins the rain-delayed Greater Cleveland Open by one shot over countryman Tjaart van der Walt to become the first South African-born player to win on the Nationwide Tour. Two other South Africans have gone on to win Nationwide Tour events, Tim Clark and Pappas' brother Brenden. They both won two events.
NEXT WEEK -- The Nationwide Tour crosses the border into Canada next week for the inaugural Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic. The tournament will feature a unique format of 160 professionals and 160 celebrities/amateurs. Among the many celebrities from the sports and entertainment field expected to be at The Georgian Bay and Raven Golf Club in Thornbury, Ontario are host Wayne Gretzky's former Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers' teammates Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Marty McSorley and Grant Fuhr. The pros will be competing for the third-largest purse on Tour, $800,099. Golf Channel will air all four rounds.