BENJAMIN ALVARADO IS TOUR’S FIRST CHILEAN WINNER – A non-member last week, Benjamin Alvarado is the newest Web.com Tour member thanks to his win on Sunday in the inaugural Brasil Classic presented by HSBC. He secured a one-shot victory in São Paulo over South Africa’s Dawie van der Walt, a recent winner on the European Tour. To those not familiar with Alvarado, here is some background on the 27-year old: he is from Santiago, Chile…is the first Chilean winner on the Web.com Tour and first South American-born winner since Miguel Angel Carballo (Chattanooga, 2011)…was a two-time All-American at Arizona State U…is a two-time winner of the Chile Open (2003, ’11)…won the 2003 Southern Amateur…underwent surgery on both knees in 2009, keeping him out of action for 14 months…played in the Brasil Classic on a sponsor exemption…moves to No. 2 on the money list (also finished T4 in Chile)…is now fully exempt on the Web.com Tour and in excellent position to secure his PGA TOUR card this fall.
NO. 353 – Scot Martin Laird captured his third PGA TOUR title on Sunday (Valero Texas Open) since earning his card via the Web.com Tour in 2007, when he finished 13th on the money list. It ups the Web.com Tour alumni win count on the PGA TOUR to 353.
JIM RENNER / IN HONOR OF DAD – Web.com Tour member Jim Renner will team with forensic accounting firm Credibility International the remainder of 2013 to raise money for the American Heart Association, with donations being made in the memory of Jim’s father, John “Buck” Renner, who died of heart failure last August. Credibility International will make donations to the AHA based on Jim’s birdies, top 10s and wins. In addition, the Renner family will host a golf outing honoring Jim’s dad in September in conjunction with the Attleboro (Mass.) Area Golf Association. For information, go to www.JimRennerGolf.com.
22 YEARS IN WEST TEXAS – The Web.com Tour is in west Texas for the 22nd year in a row this week. Midland Country Club hosts the WNB Golf Classic for the 12th year. The first 10 tournaments were played at the Club at Mission Dorado in nearby Odessa. Just a few months out of the U. of Illinois, Luke Guthrie won his second consecutive tournament last year in Midland, leading to a second-place finish on the money list and his 2013 PGA TOUR card.
MOVE TO SPRING – The WNB Golf Classic moves to a new date in 2013. The first 21 events were held in August, September or October. The Classic will feature the first 156-player field of the year. The first five tournaments of 2013 had fields of 144, with the exception of the season opener in Panama, which had 132.
MASTERS CONNECTIONS – This week’s Masters Tournament features 17 first-time invitees. The list includes a past, present and future of sorts for the Web.com Tour with Ted Potter, Jr. (2011 grad), Russell Henley (2012 grad) and John Peterson (2013 member) all maintaining recent ties to the Tour. Peterson makes history this week as the first exempt Web.com Tour member to secure an invitation to the Masters. Of the 87 professionals in the field, 27 have Web.com roots, including the defending champion, Bubba Watson.
JUST TEN YEARS AGO – Time really does fly. It’s hard to believe it was only ten years ago that Len Mattiace came ever so close to winning the 2003 Masters. A bogey on the 72nd hole led to a playoff in which he was defeated by Mike Weir of Canada. An emotional Mattiace moved on but cruelly suffered ligament damage in both knees later in the year in a skiing accident, which derailed his golf game. The two-time TOUR winner and native New Yorker has been an active member of the Web.com Tour the last few years. His game has shown signs of encouragement in 2013 with three cuts made in four starts, including a T4 in the season opener in Panama. The 45-year old Mattiace tees off on Thursday in Midland.
AUTISM BLUE THIS WEEK – Players, caddies and others attending this week’s WNB Golf Classic will be encouraged to wear blue shirts on Saturday in support of Autism Month. The effort is being spearheaded by Cliff Kresge, whose son has autism (www.kresgeskrew.org). A similar program will be part of the South Georgia Classic presented by First State Bank and Trust Co. in two weeks, with the PGA TOUR doing the same at its April events.
CREATING OPPORTUNITIES – Five players new to the Web.com Tour this year enjoyed their first top-25 success of 2013 last week in Brazil – Kevin Kim of San Diego (3rd), Kevin Tway of Edmond, Okla. (4th), Philippe Gasnier of Brazil (T15/sponsor exemption), Clodomiro Carranza of Argentina (T17) and Odair De Lima of Brazil (T17/sponsor exemption). All earned spots in Midland this week. PGA TOUR Latinoamérica saw some good performances from its members. In addition to winner Alvarado, last year’s top-five leading money winners who are now Web.com Tour members all made the cut, led by Oscar Fraustro of Mexico (No. 1) placing T10, Ariel Canete of Argentina (No. 2) T15 and Carranza.
CLOSING IN ON $2 BILLION – The PGA TOUR announced its combined charity contribution from PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour and Champions Tour tournaments was a record $130 million for 2012, surpassing the previous record of $124.5 million, set in 2010. The TOUR’s all-time charity total is now $1.86 billion. It expects to surpass $2 billion in early 2014.
WEB.COM TOUR SMALL BUSINESS FORUM / MIDLAND – The second Web.com Small Business Forum of 2013 will be held at Midland Country Club this Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. The first 50 people to register and attend the forum will receive two passes to the WNB Golf Classic. The goal of the forums, which will be conducted at all domestic Web.com Tour events and select PGA TOUR and Champions Tour event, is to show small businesses how to successfully market themselves online. Interested individuals may register at: smallbusinessforum.web.com.
NEXT WEEK – The Web.com Tour is off next week before heading to Georgia for back-to-back events in Valdosta (Apr. 25-28) and Athens (May 2-5).