BuyCom Year in Review

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- The 2002 Buy.Com Tour season is in the books and what a historic campaign it was. It started in March when the tour opened in Australia and New Zealand and by the time the season came to an end, there were name changes and controversy at the Tour Championship.
 
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced that the Buy.Com Tour will undergo its fourth name change since its inception in 1990. Get ready for the Nationwide Tour as the insurance company inked a five-year deal with the PGA Tour to be the umbrella sponsor for the PGA's developmental tour.
 
The name change will have no significant impact on the average golf fan other than the tour staying around until at least 2008. The tour is gaining corporate sponsorship for some of its events and fields are ever improving on the Buy.Com..oops...Nationwide Tour.
 
With the influx of European Tour stars playing the PGA Tour events, there is not a lot of room in PGA Tour fields for the lesser-known players. These solid professionals are now competing in Nationwide Tour stops, bumping the name recognition of the competitors and in turn, the level of play.
 
TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
 
After the Tour Championship, the top 15 on the Buy.Com money list gain full exemptions to the PGA Tour for 2003. Patrick Moore, who was a two-time winner in 2002 before the Tour Championship, held the 54-hole lead as rain wreaked havoc on the tournament all week and threatened Sunday's action as well.
 
On to Sunday as Jeff Klauk, who was 42nd on the money list, built a two-shot lead over Moore and a one-shot edge over Steven Alker. Then the heavy stuff came down and officials decided to suspend play for the day, ultimately washing Klauk's PGA Tour hopes away.
 
Officials shortened the tournament to 54 holes and declared Moore the winner, as he held the outright lead after three rounds. That gave him a 'battlefield promotion' for winning three times and sent him to the Southern Farm Bureau Classic on the PGA Tour the next week.
 
Klauk needed a victory to reach that top-15 plateau, nothing less. Klauk tied for second and only moved to 22nd on the final money list, meaning he will settle for a berth into the finals of the 2002 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.
 
OVERSEAS
 
In 2002, the Buy.Com opened in Australia as the tour ventured across the globe. The tour played in Canada in years past but never this far away from the United States.
 
Gavin Coles won the inaugural Jacob's Creek Open in the Land Down Under to begin the season, and it was Peter O'Malley who took the Holden Clearwater Classic the following week in New Zealand.
 
O'Malley gained prominence a few weeks earlier as he upset World No. 1 Tiger Woods in the first round of the WGC-Match Play Championship. O'Malley bowed out in the second round to Nick Price.
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
 
Not a hard decision here as Patrick Moore gets the nod. He was the only player to win three times on tour in 2002, he won the biggest event (Tour Championship) and he topped the money list.
 
Honorable mention goes to Arron Oberholser (two wins and second on the money list), Cliff Kresge (two wins and fifth on the money list) and Jason Gore (two wins and sixth on the money list).
 
FINE COMEBACKS
 
Todd Barranger was 15th on the money list heading into the 2001 Tour Championship but was bounced from his spot and missed his PGA Tour card.
 
In 2002, Barranger came into the season finale 15th on the money list and this time held on to the final place. He thus earned his automatic entry to the big show.
 
In 1993, Chip Beck finished second to Bernhard Langer at the Masters, second to Jim Gallagher, Jr., at the Michelob Championship and was an integral part of Tom Watson's victorious Ryder Cup team.
 
He hasn't done much since. Until 2002.
 
Beck made the cut in half of his starts on the Buy.Com in 2002 and took two top-10s. At the Omaha Classic in August, Beck was in the hunt until Jay Delsing drained a six-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole to capture the title.
 
Beck came in a respectable 71st on the final money list and can look forward to 2003
 
DEBUTS
 
Andy Miller, son of NBC analyst and two-time major winner Johnny Miller, impressed his father with fine play at this year's U.S. Open at the extremely difficult Black Course at Bethpage State Park in New York. What he did in September at the State Farm Open may have impressed dad even more.
 
Miller, a Monday qualifier, fired a final-round 66 and waited nearly two hours for the last round to draw to an end. The result was a four-man playoff that Miller won with a two-putt birdie from 40 feet. It was Miller's first win as a professional and with only six starts on the Buy.Com, Miller reached the Tour Championship and has a home for the 2003 campaign.