With the Nationwide Tour coming off its best year ever in 2010, more than 200 players from America and 18 countries outside the United States will compete for “The 25” available PGA TOUR cards from February through October.
The Panama Claro Championship in Panama City, Panama starts the season Feb. 24-27, marking the seventh time in the last eight years (2004-2009, 2011) the Tour has begun its season at Panama Golf Club.
The following week (March 3-6), the Tour travels to South America and Bogot� Country Club in Bogot�, Colombia for the second playing of the Pacific Rubiales Bogot� Open presented by Samsung. Last year’s inaugural event was the PGA TOUR’s first sanctioned tournament in South America. Colombia native and 2005 Nationwide Tour graduate Camilo Villegas served as tournament host the same week he won the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic.
The starting fields will be 132 players in Panama and 144 players in Bogot�, with the four available leading money winners from the final 2010 Tour de las Americas Order of Merit invited to play in both.
“The state of the Nationwide Tour is very strong,” said PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem. “It is coming off a very successful 2010 season in terms of the competition, new corporate support, high-profile hosts, contributions to charity and PGA TOUR impact, which has been undeniable and is demonstrated weekly on the PGA TOUR. In just the first six tournaments of 2011, Nationwide Tour alumni have been in every winner’s circle, the most to start a PGA TOUR season. Also, the top five spots and 21 of the top-25 in the current FedExCup standings are occupied by Nationwide Tour alumni. We are very proud of the Nationwide Tour and the very unique place it holds in the world of golf.”
“One of the very special things about the Nationwide Tour is that with each new year comes great anticipation and interest about which players will emerge and contend for ‘The 25’ PGA TOUR cards that are available through this Tour,” said Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee. “Who might pursue an immediate three-win promotion to the PGA TOUR? Who will catch fire down the stretch to play his way inside ‘The 25’? And who will be the last player to survive the drama at the Nationwide Tour Championship and capture the 25th card?
“The Nationwide Tour serves up some of golf’s most genuine drama,” Calfee continued. “It has its own unique identity in golf and generates interesting new story lines throughout the year, not only on the Nationwide Tour but on the PGA TOUR, too. One has to look no further than 2010 graduate Jhonattan Vegas and his January breakthrough, as well as alum Mark Wilson‘s two quick wins this year for evidence of that. We invite golf fans everywhere to follow the action of our season-long quest to identify and transition the next PGA TOUR stars.”
Golf fans can follow the season-long quest on the Nationwide Tour’s exclusive television home, Golf Channel, which is available in 83 million U.S. households. Internationally, the Tour has a presence in 176 countries and territories, including every continent except Antarctica, and reaches 123 million homes outside of the United States via the PGA TOUR’s international broadcasting operation. Fans may also follow the Tour onPGATOUR.COM, Twitter and Facebook.
The Nationwide Tour’s domestic schedule begins in March (24-27) at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open near Lafayette.
By season’s end, the Nationwide Tour’s 26 events will take the players to 16 states in the U.S., plus three stops in Latin America (Mexico being the third). Daniel Island Club in Charleston, S.C. will host the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship where “The 25” PGA TOUR cards for 2012 will be awarded.