Once opening round action gets underway Thursday, 156 golfers will be looking for bragging rights in the Tours third official event of the season, not to mention the $16,000 winners check that will be handed out Sunday afternoon.
The Golf Channel will broadcast all four rounds of the Northern California Classic live to an international viewing audience beginning at 1:30 pm Pacific each day.
This marks the second consecutive year that the Canadian Tour will pay a visit to California for a pair of official events. In 2004, Erik Compton and Ben Pettitt picked up hardware on the West Coast.
A stellar field of up-and-coming stars and established veterans are slated to compete at Brookside, including current money leader Scott Gibson, who ran away with a nine-shot triumph in the opening event of the season in Texas for his first Tour win. Californians Matt Bettencourt and Robert Hamilton, the 2001 U.S. Amateur runner-up, will also look to step into the winners circle playing in their own backyard. Rob Johnson of Terre Haute, Ind., who has three Tour victories in the past two seasons, Michael Beard, Stephen Gangluff, Chris Wall, John Mallinger, Craig Kanada, Bobby Kalinowski and Michael Harris are a few of the U.S.-born players slated to compete.
There will also be some impressive names teeing it up on sponsors exemptions this week including Stockton native Ricky Barnes, the 2002 U.S. Amateur Champion, five-time PGA Tour champion Blaine McCallister and former PGA Tour regulars Joe Acosta, Jr. and Casey Martin.
Derek Gillespie of Oshawa, Ont. and Winnipegs Rob McMillan, who are tied for third on the money list after two events, lead the Canadian charge into California. Other Canadians to keep an eye on this week include Darren Griff, Matt McQuillan, Dan Swanson, Ben Ferguson, Adam Short, Craig Matthew, Chris Baryla and Stuart Anderson. Several international players will also be searching for a win at Brookside, including South African Alan McLean, who now lives in Thunder Bay, Ont., Brazils Alex Rocha, Anders Hultman of Sweden, Australian Ben Bunny and Iain Steel of Malaysia.
Tournament organizers Ed Brink and Pat Bennett have announced that gate receipts from the Northern California Classic will be split between a pair of Stockton charities, the American Cancer Society (San Joaquin/Calaveras Unit) and the Hospice of San Joaquin.
Some of the biggest names in professional golf have plied their trade on the Canadian Tour including 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, 2005 Masters runner-up Chris DiMarco, Stuart Appleby, Craig Parry, Steve Stricker and Scott McCarron. The top 25 Tour grads have won more than $150 million on golfs biggest stage.