Notes: Henley's Open run; Oppenheim's cut streakRussell Henley stands out at the U.S. Open once again, shooting a 75 on Sunday to finish T42.June 21, 2011
Nationwide Tour Staff
MATHEW GOGGIN / FIRST TO GET TWO WINS -- With his second win of the year, Australian Mathew Goggin became the first Nationwide Tour player in line for a battlefield promotion to the PGA TOUR. A third win would send the 37-year-old who resides in Charlotte, N.C. immediately to the PGA TOUR. With earnings of $303,898 in nine starts, Goggin has a commanding money list lead of $115,720 over No. 2 Kyle Thompson, who has a $629 advantage over Troy Kelly. Goggin's wins came in the Panama Claro Championship in February and the Preferred Health Systems Wichita (Kan.) Open on Sunday.
GROWING LATIN AMERICAN PRESENCE -- After stops in Panama and Bogota early in the season, the Nationwide Tour returns to Mexico for the Mexico Open by Banamex for the fourth year in a row. The 144-man field includes 22 players from Mexico and the four leading players off the Tour de Las Americas money list. The Mexico Open, which was first played in 1944 and has been won by 11 World Golf Hall of Fame members, is co-sanctioned with the Mexican Golf Federation. Host El Bosque Country Club is located in Leon, Guanajuato, about 250 miles northwest of Mexico City. The Nationwide Tour continues to entertain potential new host relationships in other Latin American countries.
JASON DAY / PROMISE COMING TO FRUITION -- Just four years ago, Jason Day was a teenager capturing a great deal of attention on the Nationwide Tour. After dealing with health issues his first few years on the PGA TOUR, Day is now 23, healthy and has clearly introduced himself on the world stage. The affable Australian has finished runner-up in the first two majors of 2011 (Masters and U.S. Open), to go along with his T10 in the PGA Championship last August, and climbed to No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking, making him the leading International Team selection for November's Presidents Cup in his homeland. Day is the only player to finish in the top 10 in the last three majors.
KEVIN CHAPPELL / IMPRESSIVE MAJORS DEBUT -- Like Day four years ago, Kevin Chappell is no stranger to those who follow the Nationwide Tour. The 24-year-old from Fresno, Calif. made his first start in a major at the U.S. Open last week, shooting 76 in the first round. Impressively, he followed it up with the best total of any player in the field over the final 54 holes (67-69-66-202), tying him with fellow Nationwide Tour alumnus Robert Garrigus as the low Americans in the Open. Chappell, the 2008 Jack Nicklaus Award winner (nation's top collegiate golfer) out of UCLA, started 2010 with partial status on the Nationwide Tour and finished ninth on the money list, winning once and finishing second and third once. In April, Chappell contended for the Valero Texas Open title, only to finish runner-up to another 2010 graduate, Brendan Steele.
STADION WINNER RUSSELL HENLEY SHINES AGAIN IN OPEN -- Stadion Classic at UGA winner Russell Henley was the low amateur in last year's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach when he finished T16. The University of Georgia star was in contention for the honor again this year. He shot 75 on Sunday to finish T42, four shots back of UCLA freshman and 2011 Jack Nicklaus Award winner (college player of the year) Patrick Cantlay, who finished T21. In April, Henley became only the second amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event.
MIRROR LEADER BOARDS -- The final leader board at The Rex Hospital Open two weeks ago had the names Kyle Thompson (1st) and Scott Brown/Troy Kelly (T2) at the top. Those three finished in the same order behind Sunday's winner Mathew Goggin at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open -- Thompson (2nd) and Brown/Kelly (T3). Joining the trio with top finishes in Raleigh and Wichita was Martin Flores, who was T2 and T7, respectively.
FROM CONGRESSIONAL CC TO MEXICO -- Five Nationwide Tour members who competed in last week's U.S. Open are scheduled to travel from the Washington, D.C. area to Leon to compete in the Mexico Open by Banamex -- Brad Adamonis, Jon Mills, Matthew Richardson, Ty Tryon and Will Wilcox.
JULIAN ETULAIN LEADS TOUR DE LAS AMERICA CONTINGENT -- Julian Etulain, who turns 23 on June 21st, appears to have a good future in the game. The native of Argentina was the 2010 Tour de Las Americas Player of the Year. This year he has already finished T3 (Bogota) and T13 (Louisiana) on the Nationwide Tour in four starts and is 54th on the money list. Etulain earned a spot in the Mexico Open field as the current leading money winner on the Tour de Las Americas. He is joined in the field by Nos. 2-3-4 David Vanegas (who also finished T3 in Bogota), Sebastian Fernandez and Jose Garrido, respectively.
A THIRD STRAIGHT PLAYOFF?? -- The Mexico Open has featured playoffs the last two years, with Troy Merritt and Jamie Lovemark winning. Last year's win by Lovemark will be hard to top. The 2007 Jack Nicklaus Award winner (college player of the year) who would go on to be named Nationwide Tour Player of the Year defeated B.J. Staten by drilling a 6-iron from 235 yards to three feet to set up an eagle on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.....perhaps the shot of the year on the Nationwide Tour.
ROB OPPENHEIM / MR. CONSISTENCY -- Massachusetts native Rob Oppenheim's consistent play at the end of 2010 has definitely carried over to 2011. The 31-year-old has made his last 15 cuts dating back to last October (10 this year). During that stretch he has eight top-15 finishes, which includes two career-best T5s, and posted 43 of 57 rounds of par or better. Oppenheim is currently 19th on the money list. Last year, he finished 43rd in his first full season on the Nationwide Tour. Oppenheim, 31, was a four-time All-American at Rollins College in Florida and 2002 Division II Player of the Year.
NEXT UP -- The Tour is idle before resuming play July 14-17 at the Chiquita Classic at TPC River's Bend in the Cincinnati suburb of Mainesville.