MAKING THE NATIONWIDE TOUR PROUD -- In winning the PGA Championship on Sunday in ebullient fashion, Keegan Bradley notched the 14th major championship by a Nationwide Tour alumnus. In May, the Vermont native won his first PGA TOUR title, the HP Byron Nelson Championship. He is the second alum to win two TOUR events in his rookie season (Notah Begay III / 1999). The PGA win was the 315th TOUR victory by a former Nationwide Tour player.
KUDOS TO FELLOW ALUM JASON DUFNER, TOO -- Bradley and Jason Dufner gave the Nationwide Tour 1-2 billing at the PGA Championship. The 34-year-old Dufner graduated to the PGA TOUR from the Nationwide Tour in 2003 and again in 2006. A 2000 Auburn University grad, he owns two "official proving ground" wins in 123 starts (2001 and 2006).
JUST ONE YEAR AGO -- A year ago this week, PGA champion Bradley was a 24-year-old rookie on the Nationwide Tour who, sitting at No. 25 on the money list, was that week's "bubble boy." The former St. John's University star played solid golf in the fall. It included a run of T3, T3, T5 and T4, leading to a 14th-place finish on the money list and a PGA TOUR card. Though a non-winner in 28 Nationwide Tour starts, Bradley twice shot 61 and brought plenty of game to the PGA TOUR. Not only is he the logical front runner for Rookie of the Year honors, Bradley's name suddenly enters the conversation for Player of the Year.
MULTIPLE WINNERS -- Through 36 of 45 official PGA TOUR events, there have been five multiple winners -- Mark Wilson, Bubba Watson, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney and now Keegan Bradley. All five are Nationwide Tour graduates.
ALUM GARY WOODLAND IS MIDWEST CLASSIC'S HONORARY CHAIR -- Coming off a solid performance in the PGA Championship (T12), Kansas born and bred Gary Woodland is the honorary chairman of this week's Midwest Classic. The Topeka native will be at LionsGate on Tuesday to participate in an exhibition with former Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro Deron Cherry, Baseball Hall of Famer George Brett and four--time PGA TOUR winner Notah Begay III. The nine-hole event will support the Folds of Honor Foundation. Woodland competed in 14 Nationwide Tour events last year before heading to the PGA TOUR and winning the Transitions Championship near Tampa, Fla. in March. He currently ranks 9th in FedExCup points.
PRODUCTIVE CLASS -- Bradley headlines an all-star cast of players which competed on the Nationwide Tour last year and has won seven PGA TOUR titles this year -- Jhonattan Vegas, Woodland, Brendan Steele, Chris Kirk, Chris Stallings and Bradley -- more than any other class in the Tour's 22-year history.
STEVE FRIESEN MAKES EIGHT -- With his win on Sunday in the Price Cutter Charity Championship in Springfield, Mo., Steve Friesen became the fifth consecutive first-time winner on the Nationwide Tour and eighth of the year. The Nebraska native joined Ted Potter, Jr., Russell Henley, Steve Wheatcroft, Erik Compton, Russell Knox, Harris English and J.J. Killeen. Friesen started the 2011 season on a minor medical extension but hadn't gotten a start until a sponsor's pick got him in last week's Cox Classic in Omaha. He finished T49 and earned just enough money to move into a spot which got him into Springfield. The four-year University of Nebraska letter winner birdied four of the final five holes to pull away for a five-shot win in his 44th Tour appearance. He moved to 23rd on the money list.
NOT MEANT TO BE -- After winning two tournaments in consecutive weeks, J.J. Killeen was looking to make Nationwide Tour history last week in Springfield, Mo. as the first player to win three weeks in a row. It was not meant to be. The 2005 Texas Christian University grad shot 74-67 to miss the cut by two shots. It was only his second missed cut in 14 starts this year. Killeen's streak of 16 consecutive under-par rounds came to an end in the first round as well. Jason Gore won three tournaments in a row in 2005, though his came over a five-tournament stretch. Speaking about Killeen's recent run, two-time Nationwide Tour winner Patrick Sheehan told the Springfield News-Leader, "The players out here the last 10 years have gotten so much better and the depth on tour is frightening. His is an amazing accomplishment."
WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?? -- Aussie Gavin Coles' 2011 season has been one of feast or famine, with a heavier dose of famine. He finished T6 in the season-opening Panama Claro Championship, then proceeded to miss the next 12 cuts. The four-time Nationwide Tour winner played the weekend at the Cox Classic in Omaha two weeks ago only to record a T61 finish. Everything came together last week in Springfield, Mo. where Coles shot 21-under par and was runner-up to champion Steve Friesen. The two big paydays have Coles in contention for "The 25" at No. 37.
STREAK COMES TO AN END -- After going nine for nine in cuts made on the Nationwide Tour this year, New Zealand's Danny Lee missed his first one at the Cox Classic last week by four shots. He maintained the 10th spot on the money list. Aaron Watkins now has made the most cuts in a row with ten.
BOO WEEKLEY / KNOXVILLE BOUND?? -- Boo Weekley has indicated he will play next week's News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot on the Nationwide Tour if he doesn't climb enough spots this week at the Wyndham Championship to qualify for the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. The two-time PGA TOUR winner who earned his card via the Nationwide Tour in 2006 is 154th in FedExCup points as he heads to Greensboro, N.C. The top-125 will qualify for the Playoffs, which begin next week. Another former Nationwide Tour star and two-time major champion, John Daly, accepted a sponsor exemption and will be in Knoxville.
GREENVILLE CC JOINS BMW CHARITY PRO-AM ROTATION / ANNOUNCES CHARITY $ -- Greenville Country Club's Chanticleer layout will join the three-course rotation for next year's BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation. The Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design was opened for play in 1970. It was recently named one of the best courses in South Carolina by the state's Golf Course Ratings Panel. Chanticleer replaces Bright's Creek Golf Club in Mill Spring, N.C., which has been in the rotation since 2008. Thornblade Club in Greenville and Carolina Country Club in Spartanburg round out the trio of host sites. Tournament officials also announced a $652,070 donation to 26 Upstate and Western North Carolina charities from the 2011 BMW Charity Pro-Am. Since 2001, the event has raised $8.6 million for more than 150 charities in the region, making the BMW event one of the most successful fund-raisers on the Nationwide Tour.
ANOTHER HOST ROLE FOR JERRY RICE -- ESPN announced last week that Fresh Express Classic at TPC Stonebrae host Jerry Rice has been hired as an analyst for various NFL programs on the cable network, beginning this fall. The 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee has been a strong supporter of the Nationwide Tour, having served as host of the California event the last two years. He has also competed in two events and played in Tour pro-ams.
GOLF CHANNEL "GETAWAY" PROMOTION -- Golf Channel's "Nationwide Tour Hawaii Getaway" promotion enters its third week in Kansas this week. One person will win a trip for two to the 2012 Sony Open in Hawaii where the Nationwide Tour class of 2011 will make its 2012 PGA TOUR debut. Fans may enter online by answering player trivia questions here.
DID YOU KNOW?? -- For the third week in a row the winning score on the Nationwide Tour was 262 (Utah, Omaha, Springfield).
NEXT WEEK -- The Tour heads to eastern Tennessee for the News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot at Fox Den Country Club in Knoxville (Aug. 25-28).