Using a pro-am format, action will be staged at the Crenshaw Cliffside and Fazio Canyons courses at Barton Creek. Competitors will play each layout once before the professional field is reduced to the low 60 and ties after Fridays second round. The top 15 pro-am teams, plus ties, will also make the cut.
On Saturday, Crenshaw Cliffside will host the third round of the professional tournament as well as the final round of the pro-am. The final round of the professional tournament will be staged Sunday, also on the Crenshaw course.
The winner of the professional tournament will take home a check for $16,000.
Barton Creek, featuring four championship layouts designed by legends Tom Fazio, Ben Crenshaw and Arnold Palmer, is home to the top two rated courses in Texas.
Californian Scott Gibson cruised to a nine-shot win at last years season-opener, the largest margin of victory on the Canadian Tour since Arron Oberholser ran away with an 11-shot victory at the 1999 Ontario Open Heritage Classic. Gibson is back in Austin to defend his title.
Austin native and PGA Tour regular Omar Uresti, who won last years Barton Creek Challenge playing on a sponsors exemption, is scheduled to play both events in his hometown.
Defending Order of Merit champion Michael Harris and runner-up Jaime Gomez, a Texas native, are in Texas looking to pick up where they left off in 2005. Robert Hamilton, Matt Bettencourt, Mike Grob, Brian Guetz, Erik Compton, John Mallinger, Scott Ford, Lee Williamson and Stephen Woodard also other U.S.-born players to watch this week.
On the Canadian front, Jim Rutledge, who erased a nine-shot deficit in the final round to win his first Nationwide Tour event Sunday in New Zealand, is riding a wave of momentum into the Lone Star State. The six-time Tour champion last won in his home country in 1999. Other Canadians in the field this week include Stuart Anderson, Lee Curry, Derek Gillespie, Rob McMillan, Chris Baryla, Brad Fritsch, Craig Taylor, Craig Matthew, Adam Short and Darren Griff.
Australians Ben Bunny and David Walker, Alex Quiroz of Mexico, Swedens Anders Hultman and South African Alan McLean are a few of the international competitors in Austin for the curtain-raiser. Walker was medallist at the Canadian Tours Winter Qualifying School earlier this month while McLean won his first South African Sunshine Tour event a month ago in Sun City, South Africa.
Five-time PGA Tour champion Blaine McCallister will play this week on a sponsors exemption.
Justin Otto (Marble Falls, Tex.), Ryan Vallely (Medicine Hat, Alb.), Jason Bryant (Conroe, Tex.) and Charlie Rudd (Austin, Tex.) earned berths in Mondays qualifying round.
Barton Creek has been the backdrop for some memorable moments in the last few seasons. During the Tours first visit to the resort in 2002, Hultman, in his first start since winning the Winter Qualifying School nine days earlier, went on a spectacular final round birdie-eagle-eagle run on the back nine, capped off with a hole in one on the par-3 13th. The hot streak erased a three-shot deficit and gave Hultman his first Tour title.
The following week, Rob Johnson won his first event by holding off Harris, Hank Kuehne, James Driscoll and Mark Johnson at the Barton Creek Challenge.
Rob Johnson is now a three-time champion on the Canadian Tour and is in the starting field this week.
In 2004, Brad Sutterfield held off Mario Tiziani in a playoff during the Classic before Chris Wisler escaped with a one-shot win over Adam Short at the Barton Creek Challenge.