23rd SEASON STARTS ON THURSDAY -- The Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship presented by Samsung is the kickoff event to the Nationwide Tour's 23rd season and the season-long quest for "The 25" available PGA TOUR cards. This will be the third year in a row the Tour visits Colombia, but the first time it launches its season in Bogota. Defending champion Brenden Pappas of South Africa highlights a field of 144 players, which includes the top four money leaders off last year's Tour de las Americas Order of Merit. The Bogot start will be followed by the Panama Claro Championship in Panama City (March 1-4) and the Tour's first venture to Santiago, Chile for the Chile Classic presented by Pacific Rubiales (March 8-11).
FIRST PRESIDENTIAL VISIT -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will attend the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship presented by Samsung, marking the first time a sitting or former U.S. president has attended a Nationwide Tour event. The Championship will support the Clinton Foundation's work through the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative in Colombia. President Clinton is scheduled to appear at a gala celebrity event honoring his Foundation on Tuesday (Feb. 14th) and play in the next day's pro-am (Feb. 15th) with Colombia dignitaries.
VERY FIRST START -- Six players will be making their first Nationwide Tour start in Bogotá -- Erik Flores, Hudson Swafford, Paul Haley II, Jeff Cuzzort, Bio Kim and Adam Long.
STILL HAS GAME - Former PGA TOUR member (1976-85) and current Nationwide Tour president (since 1999) Bill Calfee still has plenty of game. The former University of Maryland All-American has been selected for the second year in a row to play in the Underwood Cup, a prestigious event on the North Florida golf calendar that pits the area's best amateurs vs. professionals in a Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup-styled competition Feb. 20-21. Calfee, who will join another former TOUR player and retired staff member Mike Bodney on the amateur squad, will be hard pressed to get a lot of final preparation in this week. On Monday and Tuesday he will be in Los Angeles to attend a PGA TOUR Player Advisory Council meeting, then fly overnight to Bogota to be at the season opener there.
BACK ON TOUR -- A year ago Brett Waldman was about to embark on a season of play on the Nationwide Tour, having earned a spot via Qualifying School. It was a challenging year for the 39-year-old from Kansas, who left the security of caddying for Camilo Villegas to chase his playing dreams. Waldman struggled on the Nationwide Tour earning just $7,000 in 18 starts. Competitive life behind him, Waldman landed the bag of four-time Clemson University All-American and 2010 Nationwide Tour member Kyle Stanley and planned his return to the PGA TOUR. Anybody who's been following the PGA TOUR of late knows how things have worked out for Stanley thus far in 2012.....with Waldman there every step of the way!
NEXT WEEK -- The Tour takes next week off before heading to the Panama Claro Championship in Panama City (March 1-4) and Chile for the its first event there, the Chile Classic (March 8-11).