Nationwide Tour adds event in Chile for 2012 season

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The 18th green at Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago.
October 13, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

SANTIAGO, Chile -- The PGA TOUR, Podium Sports and the Chilean Golf Federation announced that the Nationwide Tour will conduct the first official PGA TOUR event in Chile, beginning in 2012.

WATCH: News conference announcing the new Nationwide Tour event in Chile (English and Spanish). Click to watch

The "Chile Classic presented by Pacific Rubiales" will be played March 5-11 at Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago. It will feature 144 players and a purse of $600,000. In addition to an international field of Nationwide Tour members representing approximately 20 countries, exemptions will be granted to the four leading money winners from the 2011 Tour de Las Americas Order of Merit. The tournament will also have eight unrestricted sponsor exemptions, six of which will be designated for players from Latin America.

The Chile Classic is the second Nationwide Tour event to be held in South America, joining the Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open, which was first played in 2010. The title sponsor of that event, Pacific Rubiales Energy, will also play a role in the Chile Classic as presenting sponsor.

Other marquee sponsors making the event possible include Banco Edwards-Citi, Chile Tourism and the Chilean National Institute of Sport.

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"The Nationwide Tour is about opportunity," said Bill Calfee, president of the Nationwide Tour. "With the continued emergence of PGA TOUR players from South America, we view this as an incredible partnership for the PGA TOUR and Chile. PGA TOUR stars such as Camilo Villegas and Jhonattan Vegas notably got their starts on the Nationwide Tour, and the Tour has fielded many successful events in Panama, Colombia and Mexico. On Sunday, Miguel Carballo of Argentina won the Nationwide Tour event in Tennessee.

"With golf being added to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the Chile Classic takes on additional significance in contributing to the growth of the game in the region during the run up to the Games," added Calfee. "The Nationwide Tour is the best pathway for players to test their games and earn their way to the PGA TOUR. We are excited that players from Chile and South America will have that opportunity."

"The Nationwide Tour really is the proving ground of the PGA TOUR," said Mauricio Galeno, president of the Chilean Federation of Golf. "To think that six players from last year's Nationwide Tour have already won on the PGA TOUR this year, including Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship, is incredible. Our goal is to grow the game of golf in Chile, and the Nationwide Tour is the ultimate pathway for players from our region to earn their way onto the PGA TOUR."

"We are very happy that the PGA TOUR's Nationwide Tour is coming to Chile," said Alejandro Peric, CEO of Podium Sports. "We are confident the Chile Classic presented by Pacific Rubiales will be a great sporting event that will receive worldwide attention and be enjoyed by everyone who attends. Bringing the PGA TOUR to Chile marks Chile's arrival on the international golf scene. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Santiago in March."