Panama Kicks Off Record Season on Nationwide

By Pga Tour MediaJanuary 16, 2008, 5:00 pm
Nationwide TourPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The 19th Nationwide Tour season gets underway next week (Jan. 24-27) at the Panama Movistar Championship in Panama, initiating a 30-tournament schedule offering a record of nearly $19 million in prize money.
 
Over 200 players who have Nationwide Tour access will compete in the season-long quest to secure one of 25 PGA TOUR cards for 2009 that will be awarded in early November to the Tours leading money winners at the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, TX near Dallas.
 
Last year in Panama, Miguel Carballo of Argentina, who gained entry into the field as the eighth and final sponsor exemption from the Tour de las Americas, overcame a five-shot deficit the last day to become the first player from Argentina to win on the Nationwide Tour. The 28-year-old received an automatic exemption to play the Nationwide Tour the rest of the year and finished 30th on the final money list.
 
Carballo and 131 other players will be vying for $600,000 in prize money at the Panama Golf Club, site of numerous winter tour events from 1950 into the 1980s which were won by the likes of World Golf Hall of Fame members Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Roberto De Vicenzo and Curtis Strange. A number of former PGA TOUR winners are expected to be in Panama, including Skip Kendall, Glen Day, David Gossett, Gary Hallberg, Greg Kraft, Steve Pate and Willie Wood.
 
The Tour will travel from Panama to Morelia, Mexico for the 50th playing of the Mexico Open presented by Corona, a new edition to the Nationwide Tour schedule, Jan. 31 ' Feb. 3. The Jack Nicklaus-designed Tres Marias Golf Club is the host venue.
 
The first four Nationwide Tour events will be played outside of the United
States. Following Panama and Mexico, the Tour heads to New Zealand and
Australia for the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship and the Moonah Classic, respectively, in mid February. Both events are co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour of Australasia. Golf Channel will televise 16 tournaments in 2008,
beginning with these two.
 
The Nationwide Tours domestic schedule begins in March at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in Lafayette, LA.
 
A number of promising young golfers between the ages of 22 and 24 who have already experienced success on the collegiate and/or amateur scene will call the Nationwide Tour home in 2008 in pursuit of their 2009 PGA TOUR card (* indicates they are currently in the fields in Panama and Mexico):
 
Matt Every: A three-time first-team All-American at the University of Floridanamed 2006 Ben Hogan Award winner as nations top collegiate golfer.Played in 2005 Walker Cup.Was low amateur (T28) at the 2005 U.S.
Open.Missed qualifying for PGA TOUR by two shots in December.Grandfather was classmates with architect Pete Dye at Rollins CollegeAge 24Resides in Jacksonville Beach, FL.Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
 
Chris Kirk: Earned first-team All-American honors his junior and season seasons at the University of Georgia.Helped UGA win the national championship in 2005.Winner of 2007 Ben Hogan Award as nations top collegiate golfer.Set team record winning seven tournaments in his college career.Age 22.Resides in Sea Island, GA.Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
 
Colt Knost: Won 2007 U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links Championship and was a member of that years victorious U.S. Walker Cup team in Ireland.One of only three amateurs (joining Bobby Jones/1930 and Jay Siegel/1983) to win three USGA events in the same season.Was nations top-ranked amateur when he turned pro.Played collegiately at SMUAge 22.Resides in Dallas, TX.Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
 
Spencer Levin: First-team All-American at the University of New Mexico in 2004-05 and second team the year before.Low amateur (T13) at 2004 U.S.
Open, best finish since Jim Simons in 1971A two-time winner on the Canadian Tour in 2007.Won the 2004 California State Amateur, Porter Cup and Scratch Players Championship.Middle name is Joseph, named after Joe Montana.Pitched in three California State Championship All-Star games.Age 23. Father, Don, played the PGA TOUR in the early 1980s.Resides in Elk Grove, CA.Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
 
Daniel Summerhays: Earned first-team All-American honors in 2007 at Brigham Young University.Shot a 10-under-par 60 in college event at the Golden Horseshoe GC in Williamsburg, VA.First amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event, doing so at the Nationwide Childrens Hospital Invitational last July.Accepted Tour membership and went on to make 11 cuts in 13 events.Family members with professional experience include an uncle (Bruce/Champions Tour), a brother (Boyd/Nationwide Tour) and a cousin (Carrie/LPGA).Served two-year mission in Chile in 2003-05.Age 24.Resides in Farmington, UT.Earned Nationwide Tour status as a result of winning Nationwide Tour event in July.
 
Brendon Todd: Was a four-time All-American at the University of Georgia, including first-team honors in 2007.Won SEC individual championship as a freshman in 2004.Member of UGAs national championship team in 2005.Won on the Tarheel and Hooters Tours in 2007.Age 22. Resides in Atlanta, GA.Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
 
Casey Wittenberg: Runner-up to Nick Flanagan in the 2003 U.S. Amateur at
Oakmont CC.Attended Oklahoma State where he earned second-team
All-American honors in 2004.Played on that years Walker Cup team..Led Hooters Tour money list in 2007 with two wins.Finished T13 in 2004 Masters as an amateur.Has competed in 12 Nationwide Tour events, making four cuts.Has made nine cuts in 22 PGA TOUR starts.Age 23.Resides in Memphis, TN....Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying
Tournament.
 
The youngest player on the Nationwide Tour in 2008 is D.H. Lee of South Korea, who turns 21 on April 9th. Rounding out the top 10 of youngest players this year (in order) are: Woo Joon Lee/South Korea (22), Todd (22), Knost (22), Kirk (22), Wittenberg (22), Garrett Osborn/Birmingham, AL (23), Tyler Aldridge/Nampa, ID (23), Alex Prugh/Spokane, WA (23) and Every (24).
 
Related Links
  • Panama Movistar Championship
  • Getty Images

    Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

    Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

    Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

    Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

    Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


    FALLING

    Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

    Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

    Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

    Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

    Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

    Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.