The golf spotlight is on the state of Tennessee this week, with the 20th edition of the Knoxville Open presented by Food City in the Volunteer State while the PGA TOUR is playing near Memphis at the St. Jude Classic. The Knoxville Open is one of four remaining "original events" that dotted the Tour's inaugural season of 1990. In October, the Nationwide Tour returns to Tennessee for the Chattanooga Classic.
For the 11th consecutive year, Fox Den Country Club is the host site of the Knoxville Open. When Australian Jarrod Lyle won the event in 2008, he became the first international champion in the tournament's 19-year history.
REMEMBER LAST YEAR?: Australian Jarrod Lyle earned his second win of the 2008 season with a playoff win over Knoxville native Chris Kirk. Playing in the next-to-last group, Kirk birdied the final hole of regulation to finish at 19-under par and then waited as Lyle answered with a par to force the playoff. The pair played the same closing par-5 in the extra session, which Lyle birdied after knocking his tee shot into the trees only to have the ball bounce farther right and into the adjoining 10th fairway.
A DECADE OF CLOSE FINISHES: Since moving to Fox Den Country Club in 1999, the Knoxville Open has seen its share of close finishes. In the 10 previous years, there have been three playoffs -- with four of the tournaments decided by one stroke. Chez Reavie won by three shots in 2007, Hunter Haas won by five in 2006 and Heath Slocum posted a six-stroke win in 2001.
A LAUNCHING PAD FOR SUCCESS: Past champions of the Knoxville Open haven't always cashed the largest checks on Tour, but the winners have used their success in Tennessee to achieve a successful year. Fourteen of the past 19 tournament winners have earned enough money during the season to be among the Tour's graduates at the end of the schedule. Jeff Maggert, the inaugural winner in 1990, went on to be named the Tour's first Player of the Year. Other Knoxville winners who graduated and achieved success on the PGA TOUR include Brian Henninger, Tom Scherrer, J.J. Henry, Heath Slocum, Vaughn Taylor and Chez Reavie.
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|Knoxville Open presented by Food City snippets|
54-HOLE FORECAST: Holding the third-round lead has proven to be a good omen recently. The last four Knoxville Open winners have either held or shared the 54-hole lead, with 11 of 16 having done it over the years. Only four of 19 winners have been at the top after 18 holes and only four of 19 have won after leading after 36 holes.