Things Heating Up in the Arizona Desert


2005 Gila River ClassicWith just three full-field events left on the Nationwide Tour before the season-ending Tour Championship, the players gather in the Arizona desert for the fifth edition of the Gila River Golf Classic.
Leading the charge will be the tour's top money winner Troy Matteson, who is just $13,000 shy of breaking the record for most money won in a single season on the Nationwide Tour. Zach Johnson currently holds the record at $494,882 set in 2003.
Matteson, by the way, should have some good vibes coming into this event as he finished second last year to Chris Nallen.
But while one man is trying to break the bank, the real stories are the slew of players vying for position to get into the Tour Championship and ultimately trying to secure their PGA Tour cards for the 2006 season.
The top-60 on the money list gain entry into the Tour Championship whereas the top-21 on the money list at the end of the season earn their tickets to the big show in '06. Normally, the number of graduates is just 20, but due to Jason Gore already getting on the PGA Tour through his Battlefield Promotion, the tour extended the total number of tour cards to 21.
Currently Brian Henninger holds down the 60th spot on the list, although just $2,694 separates him and Dan Olsen, who sits in the 61st spot. Four other players are within $8,000 of Henninger.
As for the top-21, Greg Kraft is on the hot seat as he sits in the 21th position. Kris Cox stands a mere $171 behind Karft for the last PGA Tour card.
Twenty-one different players have visited the winner's circle thus far in 2005 and a win by anyone in this week's field could dramatically change their positioning on the money list.
The Gila River Golf Classic has a purse of $450,000 with $76,500 going to the winner.
This is the fifth straight year that the Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., has hosted the event.
Next week the tour swings into Texas for the Permian Basin Charity Golf Classic in Midland, Texas.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Gila River Golf Classic