Nationwide Tour in Bulldog Country

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Nationwide TourATHENS, Ga. ' After a one week break for the Masters, the Nationwide Tour be 120 miles up the road from Augusta National this week for the third annual Athens Regional Foundation Classic near the University of Georgia. While this is the seventh of the thirty events on the schedule this year, only two countries are represented in the win column thus far, Australia and the United States. Reflective of the Nationwide Tour's international flavor, there will be 35 players in the field from 14 countries outside of America.
 
Aron Prices win at the Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship in California two weeks ago increased Australias win total for the year to four. Joining Price in this week's field are four of the other five tournament winners, Americans Scott Dunlap and Darron Stiles and Australians Jarrod Lyle and Ewan Porter. Fellow Australian and the 2006 Athens Regional Foundation Classic champion Paul Gow returns to Athens this week vying for his fourth Tour win.
 
Seven former Georgia Bulldog standouts will also be at Jennings Mills Country Club competing on a course they played many times in college.
Among them is the 2007 Ben Hogan Award winner Chris Kirk. The Hogan Award is presented annually to the nations top collegiate golfer. Kirk will be joined by former teammate and All-American Brendon Todd and fellow Bulldogs Ryan Hybl, Franklin Langham, Scott Parel, Paul Claxton and Matt Peterson.
Peterson is the head professional at the UGA Golf Course and the reigning PGA Section champion.
 
In its third year, the Athens Regional Foundation Classic has yet to have an American winner. Joining Gow in the winner's circle last year was Martin Laird, who hails from Scotland. Lairds victory propelled him to earn his 2008 PGA TOUR card via THE 25 as he finished 13th on the money list. Lairds win featured a unique accomplishment. He was the first player in Nationwide Tour history to finish first in both Driving Distance
(327 yards) and Driving Accuracy (80.6%).
 
Playing on a sponsors exemption is deaf golfer Kevin Hall. The former Ohio State Academic All-Big 10 honoree is playing in his thirteenth PGA TOUR-sanctioned event. Earlier this year, Hall won his first professional tournament, a Hooters Winter Series event.
 
The tournaments beneficiary, the Athens Regional Foundation, was named
2007 Nationwide Tour Co-Charity of the Year last month. The Foundation will take center stage this week and plans to use the cash reward it received from the PGA TOUR to support its Cancer Care Services Campaign.
The Foundation shared the award with the Melwood Horticultural Training Center in Maryland.
 
The Nationwide Tour heads to Richmond, Virginia next week for the Henrico County Open. The tournament will be the first of 14 telecasts through November that will air on Golf Channel from the U.S. (13) and Canada (Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic).
 
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