WICHITA, Kan. -- Jeff Klauk must certainly feel like he is at home when he arrives at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open given the success he has had at Crestview Country Club.
Since his first appearance in 2002, the Florida native has earned $138,638 in six starts, including his first Nationwide Tour win in 2003, a T2 and a T7 last year.
Currently ninth on the money list with more than $245,000 in earnings this year, Klauk has all but locked up his PGA TOUR card for the first time. At year's end in early November, cards will be awarded to the top-25 money winners for 2009. The Florida Southern graduate has four top-10 finishes, including a win at the Melwood Prince George's County Open outside Washington, D.C.
With several of the Tour's money leaders idle this week, the winner's check of $94,500 could go a long way toward helping its recipient reach "The 25". Last week's Cox Classic playoff winner Ryan Hietala picked up $126,000 and catapulted from No. 148 to No. 26 on the money list.
If he were to repeat last week's performance in Wichita, the Boise, Idaho resident could enter the top 10 and all but secure his card for next year too.
Klauk and Hietala are joined in the field of 156 players by Casey Wittenberg. The Memphis native has arguably played the steadiest golf on Tour all year, having missed only two cuts in 17 events. His only disappointment is the lack of a tournament win. Sixth on the money list, he has ten top-25 finishes and lost in a playoff to Justin Hicks at the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic in Canada in late June.
Though water is featured on 11 of the 18 holes, the 6,886-yard, par-71 Crestview Country Club was the third least difficult course on Tour last year. The Robert Trent Jones Sr./Jr.-design was opened for play in 1969.
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.
The Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open is the 21st of 30 Nationwide Tour events this year. With the season's end now on the horizon, a lot of players are starting to feel the pressure to perform in order to secure one of the coveted PGA TOUR cards.
Some will fall in and some will fall out of "The 25" over the final ten tournaments. Of those players who were among the top 25 at this point last year, 18 went on to earn their PGA TOUR cards at year's end.
Scores and results of all four rounds of the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open will be available on PGATOUR.COM starting this Thursday. After four weeks in the Midwest, the Nationwide Tour heads to Rochester, N.Y. for the Xerox Classic, where last August Nick Flanagan earned his three-win promotion to the PGA TOUR.