Another Identity Crisis


The Buy.Com Tour heads into Arkansas this week for the Fort Smith Classic. For the fifth year Hardscrabble Country Club will host the event.
But the big talk on tour is the announcement that Nationwide, one of the country's largest insurance and financial service organizations, and the PGA Tour have entered a five-year partnership for Nationwide to become the now Buy.Com Tour's new umbrella sponsor beginning in 2003.
The Tour's new name, logo, brand positioning, schedule, purse levels and other details will be unveiled later this year. The good news for the players is that the purses will probably rise and more television exposure added.
Known originally as the Ben Hogan Tour, then PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman designed the tour as a proving ground for 'up-and-coming' players, as well as a place for PGA Tour veterans to hone their skills as they prepared for the Senior PGA Tour. In 1993, Nike become the main sponsor and held it until 2000 when Buy.Com took over. Prominent alumni include John Daly, Chris DiMarco, David Duval, Jim Furyk, Tom Lehman and David Toms.
Jay Delsing was last year's champion, having won the title by beating Jeff Freeman on the fourth hole of sudden death. Freeman put himself into contention with an incredible 60 on Saturday, just the fifth such score to be posted in the tour's history.
Delsings 72-hole 263 total was good enough for the first place check of $76,500. This years purse will total $425,000.
The Hardscrabble course is a par-70 and measures 6,619 yards, and is susceptible to some awfully low scores, as Freeman can attest.
Buy.Com Statistical Preview