Notebook: Web.com Tour kicks off 25th year
February 11, 2014
WEB.COM TOUR KICKS OFF 25th YEAR THIS WEEK IN BOGOTÁ – Launched in 1990, the Web.com Tour’s 25th season gets underway this Thursday at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship presented by Claro in Bogotá, Colombia. The Country Club of Bogotá hosts the Tour for the fifth year in a row. Patrick Cantlay won last year, becoming the second youngest champion in Tour history. The field of 144 includes 10 exemptions for players from Latin America who are not otherwise eligible, plus December’s Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament medalist Zack Fischer (Texarkana, Texas/UT-Arlington) and 2013 leading money winners Ryan Blaum (Champions Gate, Fla./Duke University) and Mackenzie Hughes (Dundas, Ont./Kent State U.) off NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and PGA TOUR Canada, respectively.
FORMER PLAYER OF THE YEAR SHINING BRIGHTLY ON PGA TOUR – After earning Web.com Tour Player of the Year honors in 2004, Jimmy Walker has improved his position on the PGA TOUR money list every year despite some early career injury setbacks, compiling almost $9.3 million in 187 winless starts through the 2013 season. In 2013-14, he has exploded with three wins in just eight starts. Since 1995, only three other players (David Duval, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods) have won three times in eight or fewer starts to begin a season.
NO. 374 – Jimmy Walker’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am upped the Web.com Tour alumni win count on the PGA TOUR to 374.
ALONG FOR ALL 25 YEARS – Four tournaments share in celebrating 25 years with the Web.com Tour this year – the Albertsons Boise (Idaho) Open presented by Kraft, News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot in Knoxville, Tenn., Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper in Springfield, Mo. and Air Capital Classic presented by Aetna in Wichita, Kan.
290 PURSUING 50 – The 2014 roster of eligible Web.com Tour players features 290 names, which range from 2013 tournament winners and top money-list finishers to former fully exempt PGA TOUR members and Qualifying Tournament finalists to past champions and veteran members.
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT COLOMBIA? – This week’s host city, Bogotá, has a lively cultural and artistic scene with access to a wide range of museums, libraries, film, visual arts, theater, music, literature and dance. In 2012, UNESCO included Bogota in its Network of Creative Cities in the music category for its force in rock, hip-hop, classical music, jazz and local rhythms.
HAROLD VARNER III’S SEASON TO START WITH PRESTIGIOUS PGA TOUR EXEMPTION – Harold Varner III of Gastonia, N.C. has been awarded the Northern Trust Open Exemption and will make his second PGA TOUR start this week. The exemption has been awarded since 2009 to promote diversity in the game of golf. Last summer, the 2012 East Carolina University grad qualified for the U.S. Open played at Merion Golf Club (missed cut). He has exempt status on the Web.com Tour through the first eight events of 2014 after finishing T32 at December’s Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament at PGA West in California. Varner is scheduled to make his first Web.com Tour start as a member in Chile in early March.
MAX HOMA, CLOSE TO HOME THIS WEEK – Max Homa’s debut on the Web.com Tour will be delayed by at least one tournament. The 2013 NCAA Championship individual winner received a sponsor exemption to play in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club, which is just down the 405 highway from his Valencia, Calif. home. In four PGA TOUR west coast starts since turning professional after September’s Walker Cup, Homa has earned $171,450, which includes a T9 in his debut at the Frys.com Open.
WEB.COM SMALL BUSINESS SUMMIT / 2014 – Web.com will conduct more than 50 Small Business Summit seminars across the U.S. in 2014 in conjunction with PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour and Champions Tour events. The first Summit was held at the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA TOUR in January. The final one will be at the Web.com Tour Championship in September. The seminars, which are free, are designed to help small businesses successfully build their online presence.
CATCH-UP ITEMS FROM LATE 2013 – The following items were announced in late 2013. We share them with you in the event the news did not already reach you.
• The PGA TOUR Policy Board approved an increase in the cut size on the Web.com Tour to 65 and ties, effective in 2014. It had been 60 and ties.
• The Policy Board also approved the specifics of access to the Web.com Tour from PGA TOUR China. Mirroring that which is in effect for PGA TOUR Canada and NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, the 2014 leading money winner on PGA TOUR China will be fully exempt on the Web.com Tour in 2015, and those who finish second through fifth in earnings will have conditional status.
• The PGA TOUR recently announced it and the tournaments across all its tours had reached the $2 billion mark in charitable giving. Since 1990, the Web.com Tour has contributed to this success. In 2013 alone, five Web.com Tour events (Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft in Idaho, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio, BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation in Greenville, S.C., Mylan Classic near Pittsburgh, Pa. and Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper in Springfield, Mo.) generated a minimum of $700,000 each for charity, with the Albertsons Boise Open raising the most, $1,331,059.
• In December, the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship announced its 2013 charitable donation was $874,169, which included $750,000 for pediatric research and treatment at the Columbus, Ohio hospital. Since 2007, the tournament has raised almost $3.5 million.
• In another December charity announcement, the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper distributed gifts to 48 children's charities in the Ozarks of Missouri totaling $819,079, upping its 24-year total to $10.9 million.
• 2013 Web.com Tour graduate Benjamin Alvarado was recognized in December by the Chilean government in a ceremony that took place at Chile's seat of government, La Moneda Palace, in Santiago. Alvarado became the first Chilean to win on the Web.com Tour and first to secure PGA TOUR membership.