Nationwide Tour Returns Stateside

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Nationwide TourAfter a four-week layoff, the Nationwide Tour returns stateside for the first event on U.S. soil in 2006 with the 15th edition of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in Broussard, Louisiana.
 
After opening in Panama and following a pair of events in New Zealand and Australia, the tour will play back-to-back events then take another two weeks off before settling into the season in mid-April.
 
Ryan Hietala will make a rare return to defend his title after his victory last year. On the strength of his win here last year, Hietala earned his PGA TOUR card for the '06 season but didn't make it in the field at this week's PLAYERS Championship.
 
Hopefully for Hietala, the good feelings from last year will spark something in his game as he has missed the cut in all four of his starts this year on TOUR.
 
Last season's event turned out to be a glimpse into the future with names such as Sean O'Hair and Bubba Watson hovering around the lead all week. O'Hair eventually finished runner-up and then of course went on to win the John Deere Classic later in the year.
 
All three winners from the year's first three events - Paul Sheehan, Jim Rutledge and Tripp Isenhour - will be on hand to challenge Hietala in Louisiana.
 
Le Triomphe Golf & Country Club has hosted this event since its existence in 1992.
 
The only playoff in event history came in 2002, when Steven Alker defeated Mike Heinen.
 
The Nationwide Tour heads out to California next week for the Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship at the Course at Wente Vineyards.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Chitimacha Louisiana Open