Notes: Growing Tour footprint next stops in Chile

March 05, 2012
Nationwide Tour staff

NATIONWIDE TOUR MAKES FIRST VISIT TO CHILE -- The Nationwide Tour's ever growing footprint in Latin America takes another big step when it travels to Chile for the first PGA TOUR-sanctioned event in that country. Tour players head to Chile with a great deal of anticipation and fascination about what their week in Santiago will bring. The Chile Classic presented by Pacific Rubiales is made possible by Chile Tourism and tournament promoter Podium of Santiago. While the 72-hole competition will be center stage, the Chile Classic is viewed as an opportunity to tell the country's story to a broader audience. A beautiful city, Santiago is flanked by the Andes Mountains to the east and the Chilean Coastal Range to the west. Steady growth has transformed Chile into one of Latin America's most modern cities and regional home to many multinationals and a financial center.

CHILE CLASSIC presented by Pacific Rubiales
March 8-11
Prince of Wales Country Club, Santiago, Chile
Purse: $600,000 First Prize: $108,000
2011 Champion: New tournament
144 players (including top four 2011 Tour de las Americas money leaders and sponsor exemptions going to eight Chilean players)
Third of 27 events

LOAR SOARS IN PANAMA -- After an outstanding amateur/collegiate career, it took Ed Loar more than a decade to enter the winner's circle in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event, doing so on Sunday at the Panama Claro Championship. The 34-year-old became only the sixth left-handed winner in Nationwide Tour history. Loar is actually a member of the PGA TOUR this year for the first time, having earned his card via last fall's Qualifying School (T18). He played in Panama as he didn't get a spot in the Honda Classic field. The four-time Oklahoma State University All-American and 1999 Walker Cup team member returns to the PGA TOUR and the Puerto Rico Open this week. Loar played on an NCAA Championship winning team at OSU with Charles Howell III and Bo Van Pelt. His other professional wins came at the 2003 Thailand Open and the 2004 Korean Open.

FIRST TIMERS JOIN PGA TOUR WINNERS IN CHILE -- A field of 144 players will be in Santiago for the Nationwide Tour's third event of 2012. It will include the four leading money winners from the Tour de las Americas Order of Merit, plus eight sponsor exemptions, which have been extended to Chile's most promising golfers, seven of whom will be playing in their first Nationwide Tour event (note: the eighth, Felipe Auguilar, played in one NWT event in 1999). Also in the field are seven players who collectively have won 15 PGA TOUR events (A. Magee, J. Inman, A. Stolz, C. Franco, G. Day, L. Mattiace and C. Warren). Order or Merit exemption Julian Etulain, 23 of Argentina, finished T3 in last year's rain-shortened Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship in Bogotá. The usual strong international Nationwide Tour contingent will be in Chile, with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Paraguay, India, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Wales represented, along with host Chile. 48 players in the field have captured 87 Nationwide Tour titles.

JUAN CERDA -- A YOUNG CHILEAN IN LOVE WITH THE GAME -- Seventeen-year-old Juan Cerda has received one of the tournament exemptions after earning it via a qualifying event sponsored by Chile Classic tourism partner La Serena, which is a beautiful coastal area in the Coquimbo region of northern Chile. The young Chilean is the son of a lifetime caddie who wakes up at 4 a.m. and takes a 2 ½ hour bus ride to practice. In December, Cerda won the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl Invitational near Miami, Florida (former champions include Tiger Woods, Mark Calcavecchia and Camilo Villegas) and is the reigning Chilean Junior champion. "He comes from humble beginnings," said tournament director Alejandro Peric of Podium. "It's a real watershed moment for Juan to have a chance to play and makes it a real community event." No doubt, he will have many fans cheering for him at Prince of Wales Country Club. Note: John Dell will have more on the Chile Open and Juan Cerda in this week's Nationwide Tour preview on PGATOUR.COM.

A FEW FACTS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT CHILE -- The Nationwide Tour is a vehicle that delivers proven performers to the PGA TOUR every year. It is also a vehicle that drives promotional benefits to the many places it visits both in the U.S. and abroad. This week, Chile is proud to share its story with the rest of the world that follows golf and the Nationwide Tour:

• Chile has 2,700 miles of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and features arid desert, forests, valleys, mountains, lakes, glacier fields and the Antarctic Circle to the south. • Chile is never more than 110 miles wide from east to west. • Mountains cover 80% of the country. • It is one of only two countries in South America that does not border Brazil. • The population of Chile is 16.9 million, with 5.6 million living in metropolitan Santiago. • There are 50 golf courses in Chile, 60 golf professionals and an estimated 15,000 amateur players. • Santiago was recently named one of the "best destinations to visit" by the New York Times. • Chile has five cultural sites that have been named World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, plus 169 ski slopes and 35 national parks. • The northern portion of the country holds claim to the clearest skies in the Southern Hemisphere for viewing stars. • Santiago was founded in 1541 by Spanish explorer Pedro de Valdivia. • Most Chileans are of European or mixed European and indigenous ancestry. • Chile received its independence from Spanish colonial rule in 1810. • Tournament sponsor, La Serena, a beautiful coastal and tourist area to the north, has grown by 30% in the last 30 years. • Chile ranks No. 1 on the list of best countries for doing business in Latin America. • Chile ranks No. 1 in copper production in the world. • More than 99% of the world's harvested potatoes in the world originate in Chile. • Chile is the world's second-largest grower of salmon. • Chile provides North America with almost 15% of all fruit sales from November through April. • Every day, 9.8 million people around the world enjoy a glass of Chilean wine. • There are more than 2,000 volcanoes in Chile, 38 of which are active, with the tallest being 22,614 feet. • Chile has over 1,750 glaciers which cover 3% of the country's surface. • David Selkirk, immortalized as Robinson Crusoe, survived a shipwreck and lived for several years on a desert island off the coast of Chile.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK -- "Bringing the PGA TOUR to Chile marks Chile's arrival on the international golf scene....Can you imagine what would happen if a Chilean player gets to the Nationwide Tour and then to the PGA TOUR and then the Olympics will be here in a few years?"...Alejandro Peric, Chile Classic tournament director and CEO of Podium

BIRTHDAY BOYS -- Celebrating birthdays this week in Chile will be Fernando Mechereffe (6th/turns 29), Jon Mills (6th/34), Alex Aragon (11th/33) and Roger Tambellini (11th/37).

NEXT WEEK -- The Nationwide Tour is off next week before kicking off the 2012 domestic schedule at the 21st Chitimacha Louisiana Open near Lafayette, La. the following week (March 22-25).