WICHITA, Kan. -- The Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open and the Nationwide Tour today announced an agreement in principle to extend Wichita's tournament through 2012. The prize purse will increase over the period to at least $600,000.
The 2009 edition of the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open -- the 20th playing of the event -- will take place August 3-9.
"The extension of the Wichita Open for four more years is great news for the Nationwide Tour," said Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee. "The tournament has featured many memorable moments and winners who've gone on to enjoy great success on the PGA TOUR. Next year's event marks what we hope is the beginning of another 20 years in Wichita. We thank Preferred Health Systems and the Wichita business and golf communities for being so supportive of us throughout the first 20."
"We are extremely pleased to continue our role as title sponsor of the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open for another four years," said Marlon Dauner, president and CEO of Preferred Health Systems. "Having a Nationwide Tour event in Wichita is a feather in the cap of our city and is an important benefit for the business community. Importantly, with the PGA TOUR and Via Christi resources, the Wichita Open provides a great opportunity to give back to those in need through deserving charities and community organizations."
The 2009 tournament will feature some dramatic and exciting changes to the Crestview Country Club course, including new greens and fairways. The fairways will be converted to zoysia turf, and many fairways and greens will be re-formatted.
"The look and playability of Crestview's course will change dramatically for the better and be more Tour caliber," said Ken Nicholas, general manager of Crestview Country Club. "Our goal is always to provide better golf and enhance our member experience. We aim to be one of the premiere clubs in the region."
Additional corporate facilities are being added to the highly successful 17th hole hospitality area.
The tournament also announced a $100,000 donation -- the largest in the history of the event -- to area charities for 2008. A variety of charities and community organizations are benefiting from the donation, including Children's Miracle Network, the Greater Newton Community Foundation, The First Tee, Evolution Soccer Club, Kiwanis Club of Wichita and baseball teams from Westurban. Since 2001, Preferred Health Systems' first year of title sponsorship, the Wichita Open has donated more than $400,000 to benefit area charities and community organizations.
The Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open will continue its ticket sales program for selected charities. Through a Tickets For Charity program, non-profit charitable organizations can sell grounds passes to the 2009 tournament and keep all of the proceeds. This program accounted for more than 25 percent of the donations received by charities for the 2008 year.
Crestview Country Club will host the Nationwide Tour for the ninth consecutive year. Wichita has been home to a Nationwide Tour event every year since the Tour's inception in 1990. The Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open joins original events in Boise, Idaho, Knoxville, Tenn., and Springfield, MO., that are still on the schedule. The 20th playing of the Preferred Health Systems Open will correspond with the Nationwide Tour's 20th anniversary celebration in 2009.
"It's fitting that the 20th playing of the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open coincides with this important commitment by the Nationwide Tour to extend their relationship and continue this great event," said Roy Turner, tournament director of the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open. "Our goal is always to present a PGA TOUR-caliber event. The course enhancements by Crestview Country Club move us more in that direction and also offer a fabulous improvement to the golf scene in Wichita as well as for the players in our tournament."
Scott Piercy won the 2008 Preferred Health Systems Open by two shots over Hunter Haas, Spencer Levin and Daniel Summerhays and earned his PGA TOUR card for 2009 based on his ninth-place finish on this year's Nationwide Tour money list. The Las Vegas native and resident attended the press conference.