This week the Nationwide Tour heads to Wichita, Kan., for the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open at Crestview CC. Last year, Chris Tidland eagled the 72nd hole to beat Dave Schulz and Chad Collins by one stroke.
59 AND 279: Aussie Stuart Appleby's dramatic victory on Sunday in The Greenbrier Classic was the 279th PGA TOUR win by a former Nationwide Tour member. He also became the third alumnus to shoot 59 on the PGA TOUR (David Duval, Paul Goydos). Appleby earned his PGA TOUR card after winning twice on the Nationwide Tour in 1995 and finishing 5th on the money list. On Saturday, another Tour alum, D.A. Points, flirted with 59 only to be derailed by a bogey on the 17th hole. Points shot 61.
21 YEARS AND GOING STRONG: The 2010 edition of the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open marks the 21st straight year the Nationwide Tour will visit Kansas' largest city. Wichita is one of four original events from the Tour's first season (1990) that is still on the schedule. Major champions Tom Lehman (1990), David Duval (1993) and David Toms (1996) have all hoisted the tournament trophy. Wichita-based Preferred Health Systems has been title sponsor since 2002 and added significant stability and resources to the event. Cumulative charitable proceeds are approaching $4 million.
PACKED LEADERBOARD: Nationwide Tour alums were all over The Greenbrier Classic leaderboard. Of the top-20 finishers in West Virginia, 18 were former Tour members. Of the 84 professionals who made the cut, 71 had Tour roots.
PILLER JOINS HUNT FOR BATTLEFIELD PROMOTION: Martin Piller became the second two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour this year with his Cox Classic win in Omaha, Neb. on Sunday. Piller and Tommy Gainey are one win away from a battlefield promotion to the PGA TOUR. Piller improved seven spots on the money list to No. 3 ($318,621). His first win came at the Stadion Athens Classic at UGA in early May.
LOVEMARK LEADS: Jamie Lovemark of San Diego, Calif., padded his lead on the money list over Tommy Gainey by about $4,000 to $19,439. Lovemark, who was the 2007 college player of the year as a freshman at USC, overcame an opening-round 72 (T121) in Omaha with subsequent rounds of 64 (made the cut on the number), 68 and 65 to finish T19. Twenty-eight of Lovemark's last 31 rounds have been par or better which includes two 64s and three 65s. He has the lowest final-round scoring average (67.70) of any player on Tour who has completed 72 holes in five or more events.
ROOKIE HAHN HONING IN ON "25": With his third top-10 finish in his last four starts, rookie James Hahn has significantly enhanced his prospects for earning one of "THE 25" PGA TOUR cards for 2011 that will be awarded at season's end. The South Korea-born Hahn was 33rd on the money list in late June before recording a T4, T10 and T3. He is now 12th. A 2003 graduate of the University of California-Berkeley, Hahn was a college teammate of Peter Tomasulo.
KSU'S AARON WATKINS ALSO EYEING "25": Kansas State University graduate (2004) Aaron Watkins returns to Kansas with his sites set on returning to the PGA TOUR next year. Watkins, 28, was as high as 6th on the money list in March following a playoff runner-up in Bogotá. A string of five missed cuts in June and July dropped him outside "THE 25". The Mesa, Ariz., resident currently sits 30th but is coming off an encouraging T19 finish last week in Omaha. Watkins spent last year on the PGA TOUR having earned a spot via the 2008 Qualifying Tournament. Eight-time PGA TOUR winner and two-time Champions Tour player of the year Jim Colbert is the most prominent KSU alumnus (1964) to compete on TOUR.
BY WAY OF COMPARISON: Last year's Nationwide Tour schedule had the same number of events, 29, as this year's. Last week's Cox Classic was the 17th event of 2010. Through 17 of 29 events last year, here are a few money list comparisons:
Prize money over the final 12 events of 2010 is comparable to 2009. If these numbers are any guide, the cutoff for the 25th and final card will be somewhere in the neighborhood of what it was last year -- $191,467 (Fran Quinn). It's getting to be that time of year when the catch phrase on Tour is "play hard, boys."
NEXT WEEK:The Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper is the fifth and final leg of the Nationwide Tour's Midwest swing (Aug. 12-15). Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield, Mo. is the host venue.