Knoxville the Ticket to the PGA Tour

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There are 31 tournaments on this years Nationwide Tour schedule. That means with only 20 PGA Tour cards to give out, not every tournament winner will be graduating at seasons end.
 
Last year six players won on the Nationwide Tour and failed to finish inside the top 20 on the money list. By contrast, there was only one player who didnt win in 2003 and yet still ended the season inside the top 20 (Jason Dufner).
 
Obviously, winning helps. But its not a guarantee for promotion.
 
Unless you win the Knoxville Open, which has a near 80-percent success rate in sending its champions directly to the PGA Tour.
 
Eleven of the 14 past champions in Knoxville, Tenn., have gone on to earn their PGA Tour cards for the following season. That list includes the last six tournament winners.
 
OK, its not a guarantee. But its close.
 
A year ago, Vaughn Taylor defeated Joe Ogilvie in a playoff at the Fox Den Country Club (par 72, 7,142 yards). Taylor finished the year 11th on the money list. After a slow start to his rookie campaign on the primary circuit, he finally made his presence felt by taking the first-round lead in last weeks FedEx St. Jude Classic eventually finishing in a tie for 5th place.
 
Ogilvie finished 2003 second on the Nationwide Tour money list. He has had even more success in the big league, tying for second in the HP Classic of New Orleans, where he held the 54-hole lead.
 
While the Knoxville Open has offered immediate gratification to most of its winners, in terms of handing out PGA Tour cards, long-term success has been harder to come by.
 
Only four of the 14 have won a PGA Tour event. And including Taylor, only four currently have full exempt status on tour.
 
The most notable past champion is Jeff Maggert, who won the inaugural event in 1990. He went on to top the money list that season and has amassed almost $12 million in official PGA Tour earnings.
 
Fox Den will host the tournament for the sixth straight year. Tim Conley holds the 72-hole scoring record with a 261 total in 1993. But that was at the par-71 Willow Creek Country Club. Heath Slocum, who won this years Tucson Open on the PGA Tour, holds the lowest winning mark at Fox Den with his 265 in 2001.
 
The tournament is one of only four remaining from the orginial schedule when the then Hogan Tour debuted in 1990. The others are: the Price Cutter Charity Championship, the Wichita Open and the Boise Open.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Knoxville Open