A total of 132 players will tackle the 7035-yard par-72 Greg Norman course at Barefoot Resort, with opening round play getting under way Thursday. In 2001, Aaron Barber won the weather-shortened 54-hole event on his way to the Canadian Tour's money crown.
Playing on a Golf Channel exemption for the next two weeks will be Casey Martin. The 29-year-old, who won the 1998 NIKE (now Buy.com) Tour Lakeland Classic, gained headlines around the world a few years back when he took the PGA Tour to court after being refused permission to use a cart during tournament rounds. Martin suffers from a birth defect in his right leg known as Klippel-Trenaunay-Webber Syndrome, and must use a strong support to keep the swelling down. On Thursday and Friday, Martin will be paired with James Driscoll and Chris Wall.
Last weekend, sponsor invite Pablo del Olmo of Mexico mastered the Palma Real GC in Ixtapa, Mexico, to claim the Michelin Ixtapa Classic. Most players who played in that event jetted their way across the country and arrived in Myrtle Beach Tuesday.
Hank Kuehne continues to lead the 2002 Order of Merit standings with $52,200 in winnings, but Steve Scott narrowed the gap with his fourth-place showing last weekend. Scott, who won the season-opening Texas Classic, vaulted over Jeff Quinney into second spot with $47,937.
On the Canadian front, Derek Gillespie is showing signs that he could be in the hunt come Sunday. Coming off a second-place finish three weeks ago at the Scottsdale Swing at Eagle Mountain, the 23-year-old had an up-and-down ride in Mexico, carding rounds of 75-66-76-64 (T35). The final-round 8-under 64 tied the Palma Real course record.
NOTES: Mark Slawter of Raleigh, N.C., who won the 2001 Eagle Creek Classic, will tee it up with the big boys this week after qualifying for the Greater Greensboro OpenJace Bugg of Henderson, KY won the Buy.Com Tours Arkansas Classic last weekend. He will now be exempt on that Tour through 2003. Bugg won the South Carolina Challenge here in Myrtle Beach last March.