As the tour closes in on the halfway point of the season, several players have started to stand out as the tour's elite.
Two that are at the head of the class thus far is Chris Couch and Troy Matteson.
Couch, who is the only player to earn two wins so far in 2005, is also the leader on the tour's money list, but just barely, as Matteson trails by a mere $1,115. Couch, however, is not in the field this week due to an exemption into the Western Open he received after winning the LaSalle Bank Open. Both the LaSalle Bank Open and this week's Westersn Open are in the Chicago-land area.
Matteson, however, counters that with an impressive stat of his own. In the 13 events he has entered he has racked up eight top-10 finishes, including one win and a pair of runner-ups.
Both players are also in the top-5 in the tour's all-around ranking, which ranks players in the following areas: Scoring Leaders, Putting Leaders, Eagle Leaders, Birdie Leaders, Sand Saves, Greens in Regulation, Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy.
Also in the field this week is Kip Henley. The champion of the second season of The Golf Channels Big Break series hopes the third time is the charm as he hits the links for his third exemption won on the show.
Henley struggled in his last Nationwide Tour Big Break exemption, missing the cut at the LaSalle Bank Open in Glenview, Ill. Fate seemed against Henley at his debut appearance at the Henrico County Open in Richmond, Va., where a two-stroke penalty he called on himself in round 1 prevented him from making the cut by two shots.
They'll being playing for a purse of $450,000 with $81,000 going to the winner.
Last year, Kevin Stadler, son of PGA Tour legend Craig Stadler notched his first-ever professional win in a dramatic playoff. His father also won that same day to become the second father-son duo to win in the same week since David and Bob Duval in 1999.
Live coverage will begin Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage on TGC.
Host Brian Anderson and analyst Curt Byrum will call all the action from the booth, while Jerry Foltz and Tommy Tolles handle on-course reporting. Brandi Seymour rounds out the broadcast crew, conducting player interviews.