Over 200 players who have Nationwide Tour access will compete in the season-long quest to secure one of 25 PGA TOUR cards for 2009 that will be awarded in early November to the Tours leading money winners at the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, TX near Dallas.
Last year in Panama, Miguel Carballo of Argentina, who gained entry into the field as the eighth and final sponsor exemption from the Tour de las Americas, overcame a five-shot deficit the last day to become the first player from Argentina to win on the Nationwide Tour. The 28-year-old received an automatic exemption to play the Nationwide Tour the rest of the year and finished 30th on the final money list.
Carballo and 131 other players will be vying for $600,000 in prize money at the Panama Golf Club, site of numerous winter tour events from 1950 into the 1980s which were won by the likes of World Golf Hall of Fame members Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Roberto De Vicenzo and Curtis Strange. A number of former PGA TOUR winners are expected to be in Panama, including Skip Kendall, Glen Day, David Gossett, Gary Hallberg, Greg Kraft, Steve Pate and Willie Wood.
The Tour will travel from Panama to Morelia, Mexico for the 50th playing of the Mexico Open presented by Corona, a new edition to the Nationwide Tour schedule, Jan. 31 ' Feb. 3. The Jack Nicklaus-designed Tres Marias Golf Club is the host venue.
The first four Nationwide Tour events will be played outside of the United
States. Following Panama and Mexico, the Tour heads to New Zealand and
Australia for the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship and the Moonah Classic, respectively, in mid February. Both events are co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour of Australasia. Golf Channel will televise 16 tournaments in 2008,
beginning with these two.
The Nationwide Tours domestic schedule begins in March at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in Lafayette, LA.
A number of promising young golfers between the ages of 22 and 24 who have already experienced success on the collegiate and/or amateur scene will call the Nationwide Tour home in 2008 in pursuit of their 2009 PGA TOUR card (* indicates they are currently in the fields in Panama and Mexico):
Matt Every: A three-time first-team All-American at the University of Floridanamed 2006 Ben Hogan Award winner as nations top collegiate golfer.Played in 2005 Walker Cup.Was low amateur (T28) at the 2005 U.S.
Open.Missed qualifying for PGA TOUR by two shots in December.Grandfather was classmates with architect Pete Dye at Rollins CollegeAge 24Resides in Jacksonville Beach, FL.Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
Chris Kirk: Earned first-team All-American honors his junior and season seasons at the University of Georgia.Helped UGA win the national championship in 2005.Winner of 2007 Ben Hogan Award as nations top collegiate golfer.Set team record winning seven tournaments in his college career.Age 22.Resides in Sea Island, GA.Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
Colt Knost: Won 2007 U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links Championship and was a member of that years victorious U.S. Walker Cup team in Ireland.One of only three amateurs (joining Bobby Jones/1930 and Jay Siegel/1983) to win three USGA events in the same season.Was nations top-ranked amateur when he turned pro.Played collegiately at SMUAge 22.Resides in Dallas, TX.Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
Spencer Levin: First-team All-American at the University of New Mexico in 2004-05 and second team the year before.Low amateur (T13) at 2004 U.S.
Open, best finish since Jim Simons in 1971A two-time winner on the Canadian Tour in 2007.Won the 2004 California State Amateur, Porter Cup and Scratch Players Championship.Middle name is Joseph, named after Joe Montana.Pitched in three California State Championship All-Star games.Age 23. Father, Don, played the PGA TOUR in the early 1980s.Resides in Elk Grove, CA.Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
Daniel Summerhays: Earned first-team All-American honors in 2007 at Brigham Young University.Shot a 10-under-par 60 in college event at the Golden Horseshoe GC in Williamsburg, VA.First amateur to win a Nationwide Tour event, doing so at the Nationwide Childrens Hospital Invitational last July.Accepted Tour membership and went on to make 11 cuts in 13 events.Family members with professional experience include an uncle (Bruce/Champions Tour), a brother (Boyd/Nationwide Tour) and a cousin (Carrie/LPGA).Served two-year mission in Chile in 2003-05.Age 24.Resides in Farmington, UT.Earned Nationwide Tour status as a result of winning Nationwide Tour event in July.
Brendon Todd: Was a four-time All-American at the University of Georgia, including first-team honors in 2007.Won SEC individual championship as a freshman in 2004.Member of UGAs national championship team in 2005.Won on the Tarheel and Hooters Tours in 2007.Age 22. Resides in Atlanta, GA.Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
Casey Wittenberg: Runner-up to Nick Flanagan in the 2003 U.S. Amateur at
Oakmont CC.Attended Oklahoma State where he earned second-team
All-American honors in 2004.Played on that years Walker Cup team..Led Hooters Tour money list in 2007 with two wins.Finished T13 in 2004 Masters as an amateur.Has competed in 12 Nationwide Tour events, making four cuts.Has made nine cuts in 22 PGA TOUR starts.Age 23.Resides in Memphis, TN....Earned Nationwide Tour status via 2007 PGA TOUR Qualifying
The youngest player on the Nationwide Tour in 2008 is D.H. Lee of South Korea, who turns 21 on April 9th. Rounding out the top 10 of youngest players this year (in order) are: Woo Joon Lee/South Korea (22), Todd (22), Knost (22), Kirk (22), Wittenberg (22), Garrett Osborn/Birmingham, AL (23), Tyler Aldridge/Nampa, ID (23), Alex Prugh/Spokane, WA (23) and Every (24).