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
  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 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%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: Who's got next?

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    The sprawling legacy of the Class of 2011 can be traced to any number of origins, but for some among what is arguably the most prolific class ever, it all began in June 2009.

    The 99-player field that descended on Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., for the AJGA’s FootJoy Invitational included Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and so many others, like Michael Kim, who up to that moment had experienced the weight of the ’11 class only from afar.

    “It was that year that Justin won the FootJoy Invitational and that got him into [the Wyndham Championship]," Kim recalled. "That was my first invitational and I was like 'these guys are so good’ and I was blown away by what they were shooting. I remember being shocked by how good they were at that time.”

    Tom Lovelady, who like former Cal-Berkeley Bear Kim is now on the PGA Tour, remembers that tournament as the moment when he started to realize how special this particular group could be, as well as the genesis of what has become lifetime friendships.

    In the third round, Lovelady was paired with Spieth.

    “We kind of hit it off and became friends after that," Lovelady recalled. "The final round I got paired with Justin Thomas and we became friends. On the 10th hole I asked [Thomas], ‘Where do you want to go to school?’ He said, ‘Here. Here or Alabama.’ My first reaction was, ‘Don’t go to Alabama.’ He’s like, ‘Why?’ I wanted to go there. I knew the class was strong and they only had so many spots, but that’s where I really wanted to go.”

    Both ended up in Tuscaloosa, and both won an NCAA title during their time in college. They also solidified a friendship that endures to this day in South Florida where they live and train together.

    While the exploits of Thomas, Spieth and Daniel Berger are well documented, perhaps the most impressive part of the ’11 class is the depth that continues to develop at the highest level.

    To many, it’s not a question as to whether the class will have another breakout star, it’s when and who?



    There’s a good chance that answer could have been found on the tee sheet for last week’s RSM Classic, a lineup that included Class of ’11 alums Lovelady; Kim; Ollie Schniederjans, a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech; Patrick Rodgers, Stanford's all-time wins leader alongside Tiger Woods; and C.T. Pan, a four-time All-American at the University of Washington.

    Lovelady earned his Tour card this year via the Web.com Tour, while Schniederjans and Rodgers are already well on their way to the competitive tipping point of Next Level.

    Rodgers, who joined the Tour in 2015, dropped a close decision at the John Deere Classic in July, where he finished a stroke behind winner Bryson DeChambeau; and Schniederjans had a similar near-miss at the Wyndham Championship.

    To those who have been conditioned by nearly a decade of play, it’s no surprise that the class has embraced a next-man-up mentality. Nor is it any surprise, at least for those who were forged by such an exceedingly high level of play, that success has seemed to be effortless.

    “First guy I remember competing against at a high level was Justin. We were playing tournaments at 10, 11 years old together,” Rodgers said. “He was really, really good at that age and I wasn’t really good and so he was always my benchmark and motivated me to get better.”

    That symbiotic relationship hasn’t changed. At every level the group has been challenged, and to a larger degree motivated, by the collective success.

    By all accounts, it was Spieth who assumed the role of standard-bearer when he joined the Tour in 2013 and immediately won. For Rodgers, however, the epiphany arrived a year later as he was preparing to play a college event in California and glanced up at a television to see his former rival grinding down the stretch at Augusta National.

    “Jordan’s leading the Masters. A couple years before we’d been paired together battling it out at this exact same college event,” he laughed. “I think I even won the tournament. It was just crazy for me to see someone who is such a peer, someone I was so familiar with up there on the biggest stage.”

    It was a common theme for many among the Class of ’11 as Spieth, Thomas and others emerged, and succeeded, on a world stage. If familiarity can breed contempt, in this case it created a collective confidence.

    Success on Tour has traditionally come slowly for new pros, the commonly held belief being that it took younger players time to evolve into Tour professionals. That’s no longer the case, the byproduct of better coaching, training and tournaments for juniors and top-level amateurs.

    But for the Class of ’11, that learning curve was accelerated by the economies of scale. The quality and quantity of competition for the class has turned out to be a fundamental tenet to the group’s success.

    “Since the mindset of the class has been win, win, win, you don’t know anything other than that, it’s never been just be good enough,” Lovelady said. “You don’t think about being top 125 [on the FedExCup points list], you think about being as high as you can instead of just trying to make the cut, or just keep your card. It’s all you’ve known since you were 14, 15 years old.”

    It’s a unique kind of competitive Darwinism that has allowed the class to separate itself from others, an ever-present reality that continues to drive the group.

    “It was constantly in my head motivating me,” Rodgers said. “Then you see Jordan turn pro and have immediate success and Justin turn pro and have immediate success. It’s kind of the fuel that drives me. What makes it special is these guys have always motivated me, maybe even more so than someone like Tiger [Woods].”

    The domino effect seems obvious, inevitable even, with the only unknown who will be next?

    “That’s a good question; I’d like for it to be myself,” Lovelady said. “But it’s hard to say it’s going to be him, it’s going to be him when it could be him. There are just so many guys.”