The starting field of 156 golfers will tee it up at the 7000-yard, par-72 Swan-e-Set Bay Resort and CC for the second straight year when opening round action gets under way Thursday morning. For the second time in as many weeks, The Golf Channel will broadcast all four rounds beginning Thursday at 4:30 pm Eastern.
With just two events left on the 2003 schedule after this week, players near the top of the money list will be jockeying for position in the hopes of winding up in the top and gaining an exemption into the second stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School this fall. Despite missing the cut last week at the Victoria Open, Rob Johnson of Terre Haute, Ind., continues to lead the Order of Merit money race with $36,373 in earnings, nearly $5,700 more than Michael Harris. Derek Gillespie of Oshawa, Canada, who missed the cut last week for the first time in 21 events, sits in third spot.
Last week in Victoria, Tour rookie Patrick Damron won his first pro title with a wire-to-wire one-shot win at Royal Colwood GC. The $20,028 payday lifted the 24-year-old Damron into sixth spot on the money list. Seven of the eight event winners from this season (Johnson has won twice) are slated to peg it up Thursday at Swan-e-set, and 23 of the top 25 in earnings will be here this week.
Opened in August 1993, Swan-e-set Bay is a spectacular 36-hole facility, with both championship courses (Links and Resort) designed by Lee Trevino. The Greater Vancouver Classic will be held on the Resort course, where defending champion Iain Steel of Malaysia equaled the course record with a final-round 8-under 64 before defeating Ken Duke on the first playoff hole last summer.