The winner of the year's first event will hope to follow in the footsteps of the 2004 winner, Jimmy Walker, who eventually parleyed his victory into player of the year honors.
In just its second year on the schedule, the Panama Championship is one of 31 events on this year's Nationwide schedule. The top-20 players on the tour's money list at the end of the season are awarded with membership onto the PGA Tour in 2006.
One name to keep an eye on this year is Bill Haas, son of Ryder Cupper Jay Haas. The younger Haas had a stellar All-America career at Wake Forest and just missed out on getting his card at PGA Tour Q-School this past December.
Now in its 16th year, the Nationwide Tour has become an enormous success and has proved to be a wonderful proving ground for future achievement on the PGA Tour. Nationwide Tour graduates have amassed over 150 PGA Tour titles and have 10 major championships to their credit.
The Golf Channel will again be the exclusive broadcast partner of the Nationwide Tour and will telecast 16 tournaments, culminating with the Nationwide Tour Championship in October.
The purse for this week's event is $525,000 with $94,500 going to the winner.
The tour has several weeks off before heading to the Land Down Under for the Jacob's Creek Open in Seaton, Australia. The schedule then hops over to New Zealand before finally opening in the United States March 24-27 for the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in Broussard, La.