First Look: Nationwide Children's Championship

McDermott/Getty Images
Defending champion Ben Kohles is one of three former champions in the field.
September 07, 2013
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM

NATIONWIDE: Field list | Course overview | FINALS: Tracker | Complete coverage

COURSE: The Ohio State University GC (Scarlet), 7,141 yards, par 72. Designed by Alister MacKenzie and built by Perry Maxwell after MacKenzie’s death in 1934, the Scarlet course was among America’s first college-owned courses and remains one of the best. The Scarlet has been host to 10 NCAA Division I championships, plus four women’s championships and the 1977 U.S. Junior Amateur. Jack Nicklaus and fellow Hall of Famer Tom Weiskopf were among those who honed their games on the Scarlet, and Nicklaus recently headed an upgrade to revamp bunkers and restore the course closer to the way MacKenzie intended it to play.

PURSE: $1 million.

CHARITY: Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a 383-bed facility that has served children from across Ohio and all 50 states. Proceeds from the tournament are earmarked for pediatric cancer research and treatment, with $625,000 raised during last year’s event.

FIELD WATCH: A total of 131 entrants head to Ohio for the third stop of the Tour Finals, all with at least one start in the series. The only previous starter missing is Patrick Cantlay, resting a stress fracture in his back after placing second in the Finals opener. ...  Chile’s Benjamin Alvarado, who won the Brasil Classic on the way to earning his PGA TOUR card, will sit out for the third time in as many Finals opportunities. ... Defending champion Ben Kohles is one of three former NCC winners in the Finals, joined by D.J. Brigman (2010) and Bill Lunde (2008).

72-HOLE RECORD: 270, Harris English (2011).

18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Jonathan Kaye (1st round, 2010), James Sacheck (3rd round, 2011), Trevor Murphy (1st round, 2012).

LAST YEAR: Kohles started his professional career with a flourish, beating Luke Guthrie in a playoff to become the first man to win a Tour event in his pro debut. The former University of Virginia standout forced a playoff with two birdies in his last three holes of regulation, then birdied again on the first extra hole. Kohles was one of 12 college All-Americans who received invitations, turning pro days earlier after completing his amateur career at the Porter Cup. The win vaulted Kohles all the way to 13th on the money list, and he moved to No.1 a week later when he won again at the Cox Classic.

STORYLINES: With the Finals at its halfway point, the picture for PGA TOUR cards -- and priority ranking -- begins to take shape. The top four finishers from the Hotel Fitness Championship -- Trevor Immelman, Cantlay, Kevin Kisner and Scott Gardiner -- appear to be secure, as will the top three from the Chiquita Classic. ... On the flip side, Alvarado and two others who earned their PGA TOUR cards through the Tour’s regular season have fallen to the bottom of the priority list. Jim Renner has missed two cuts, while Matt Bettencourt withdrew from the opener and missed the Chiquita cut. ... Other prominent names with $0 through two events: Chris DiMarco, Jonathan Byrd, Spencer Levin, Marcel Siem.

SHORT CHIPS: Kohles is one of seven Finals entrants who made their first NCC visit when the tournament offered invitations to collegiate All-Americans from the previous season. John Peterson was runner-up in 2011, with the list also including Bud Cauley, Kelly Kraft, Jamie Lovemark, Brendon Todd and Dawie Van der Walt. With the NCC now part of the Finals, the Mylan Classic has taken over the All-American invites. ... Colt Knost (Garrettsville) surprisingly is the only Ohio native in the Finals field. Nor do any of the participants make their home in the state.

TELEVISION: Thursday-Saturday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Sunday, 7-9 p.m. (GC).