Opening round action gets underway Thursday at Barton Creek Resort & Spas Fazio Foothills course, with 135 players taking on the 7125-yard, par-72 layout.
Once the final putt drops Sunday afternoon, the winner will take home a check for $16,000 US.
Rob Oppenheim of Andover, Mass. is coming off his first Canadian Tour title Sunday when he held off Jim Rutledge, Omar Uresti and Craig Kanada in a four-man playoff at the Yes! Golf Barton Creek Classic. Oppeneheim birdied three of his final four holes to get to the playoff before jarring a 25-foot birdie on the first extra hole.
This week, the 2002 Massachusetts Amateur champion will look to make it two in a row.
Uresti, an Austin native and regular on the PGA Tour, joined the Canadian Tour membership after his runner-up showing Sunday. The former Texas Longhorn also won the Barton Creek Challenge playing on a sponsors exemption in 2005, beating Canadians Derek Gillespie and Rob McMillan by five shots.
Last years Challenge was staged at Barton Creeks neighbouring Crenshaw Cliffside track.
Rutledge has also had a couple of weeks to remember. Aside from his near-miss here in Austin, the 46-year-old won his first Nationwide Tour title the week before at the ING New Zealand Championship. He will play the Challenge this week before returning to the Nationwide ranks, where he currently sits second on the money list.
Several American-born players will be looking for a triumph on their home soil, including 2005 money leader Michael Harris and Erik Compton, who claimed the honor in 2004. Jaime Gomez, Matt Bettencourt, Scott Gibson, Robert Hamilton, John Mallinger, Stephen Gangluff, Scott Ford, Mike Grob, Rob Johnson and five-time PGA TOUR champion Blaine McCallister are some other U.S. names to keep an eye on this week.
On the Canadian front, players to watch include Gillespie, Rutledge, McMillan, Adam Short, Mike Mezei, Stuart Anderson, Craig Taylor, Brad Fritsch, Darren Griff, Dan Swanson and Craig Matthew.
Matt McQuillan was the last Canadian to win a Tour event with a victory at the Telus Edmonton Open last summer.
South African Alan McLean, who now lives in Thunder Bay, Ont., won the Sunshine Tours Dimension Data Pro Am last month and would like nothing more than to follow that up with a triumph in Texas.
Designed by the legendary Tom Fazio, the Fazio Foothils is the signature course of Barton Creeks four championship layouts. Fazio puts a premium on long, accurate drives down the Hybrid TIFSport Bermuda fairways. The small, TiffEagle Bermuda greens with undulating aprons and grass bunkers make the Fazio Foothills course a shot-maker's paradise.
The Fazio Foothills course, established in 1986, ranks at the top of all experts' lists. Golfweek Magazine rates the Foothills No. 4 among America's 50 best Resort Courses. The course is also named the Best Resort Course in Texas and has the distinction of consistently having several holes listed among the State's most Best or Most Beautiful holes (hole Nos. 12, 4, 9, 16, 10, 18) recognized by The Dallas Morning News.