Lifting the curtain on the new campaign will be the Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Pro-Am Classic, to be staged March 12-15. An international field will compete for the $100,000 purse with the winner taking home a check for $16,000.
It is a unique week for the Canadian Tour, with official tournament rounds being staged Saturday through Tuesday. For Mondays third round, the field will be cut to the low 60 players plus ties for the professionals while the pro-am side will be reduced to the low 15 teams and ties. The final round for both the professionals and pro-am tournament will be at the Fazio Canyons layout on Tues., March 15.
Barton Creek will also play host to the Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Challenge March 17-20 to wrap up the two-event swing through the Lone Star State.
Once again, The Golf Channel will broadcast both events from Barton Creek.
All four Barton Creek winners from the past two seasons'Rob Johnson (Terre Haute, Ind.), Anders Hultman (Sweden), Brad Sutterfield (St. George, Utah) and Chris Wisler (Dover, Del.)' will be looking to return to the winners circle in Austin.
A year ago, Sutterfield held off Minnesotas Mario Tiziani, now a regular on the PGA Tour, in a playoff to take top honors at the season-opening Barton Creek Classic before Wisler followed up with a triumph at the rain-shortened Barton Creek Challenge one week later.
Canadian David Hearn, who notched his first victory last summer at the Times Colonist Open in Victoria and is now in the midst of his rookie PGA Tour season, returns to the Canadian Tour ranks this week. Hearn is not in the starting field for the PGA Tours Honda Classic.
A stellar field of up-and-coming stars and established veterans are slated to compete at Barton Creek, including 2004 money leader Erik Compton and former U.S. amateur runners-up Steve Scott and Robert Hamilton. Scott, who lost a playoff to Tiger Woods in the 1996 U.S. Am final, notched Canadian Tour wins at the 2001 Telus Vancouver Open and 2002 Texas Classic. Michael Harris of Troy, Mich., a regular on the Nationwide Tour in 2004; two-time Canadian Tour champion Stephen Woodard; and former PGA Tour member Stephen Gangluff will also peg it up in Texas.
Other Canadians to watch include: Derek Gillespie, Rob McMillan, Dan Swanson, Matt McQuillan and Lee Curry; while international contestants who will be looking to get a quick start out of the gate include: Iain Steel of Malaysia, South African Alan McLean and Brazils Alex Rocha.
Several Texans will be hoping for a triumph on their home soil, among them 2004 International Rookie of the Year Will Moore and fellow Dallas native Chris Wall. Before having his streak snapped last summer, Wall had made the cut in 19 straight tour events and has played on the weekend in 23 of his past 24 starts with eight top-10 finishes. Other Texans to keep an eye on at Barton Creek include Matt Weibring and Chris Parra of Dallas, San Antonios Bryan Novoa, Craig Kanada of The Woodlands and Marcus Jones of Graham.
Some of the biggest names in professional golf have plied their trade on the Canadian Tour including 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, Stuart Appleby, Chris DiMarco, Craig Parry, Steve Stricker and Scott McCarron. The top 25 tour grads have won more than $150 million on golfs biggest stage.