|Nationwide Tour Championship - November 06, 2006
NATIONWIDE TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
AT THE HOUSTONIAN
The Houstonian G&CC
Par: 36-36—72Yards: 7,100
Purse: $750,000Winner: $135,000
Season Ends at Nationwide Tour Championship
There is much more at stake at this week’s Nationwide Tour Championship at The Houstonian than just the $750,000 purse. The final event of the 2006 schedule brings with it 2007 PGA TOUR and National Qualifying Tournament implications.
With a winner’s share of $135,000, every player in the field has a chance to earn a spot on the PGA TOUR next year with a victory this week. In addition, second place is worth $81,000, or the equivalent of the winners' checks at several events this year. Below is a list of some of what the final money list will mean come Sunday night:
- No. 1 on the money list Fully-exempt status on the PGA TOUR in 2007 and an exemption into THE PLAYERS Championship
- Nos. 2-22 on the money list Conditional-exempt status on the 2007 PGA TOUR
- Nos. 23-37 on the money list Automatic advancement to the final stage of the National Qualifying Tournament
Nationwide Tour Championship
at The Houstonian Notes
- By virtue of finishing in the top 62 on the money list this season, all 62 players eligible for the Nationwide Tour Championship have achieved fully-exempt status on the 2007 Nationwide Tour. Those players finishing 63-102 on the list will have conditional status on Tour next year.
- Despite the jockeying for position and the changes to the money list, it should be noted that in the 13-year history of this event, no more than two players have ever been “bumped” from a PGA TOUR card in any given year.
- Last year in Prattville, AL, David Branshaw grabbed the second-round lead with a 7-under-par 65 at the Senator Course and held onto the top spot. Branshaw opened a four-stroke lead after 54 holes and eventually won by two over Eric Axley, thanks to a dramatic three-shot swing on the 71st hole. Branshaw stuffed a 5-iron from 215 yards to within 18 inches and rolled in an eagle putt at the par-5 17th to regain the lead from Axley, who stumbled to a bogey.
- Just as important as David Branshaw’s win last year was Eric Axley’s runner-up finish. The lefty from Knoxville, TN, used the second-place check of $70,200 to vault from No. 27 to No. 16 on the money list and gain conditional status this year on the PGA TOUR. Axley had gained his status on Tour last year by virtue of a win at The Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, NC, after earning a berth in the field through the open qualifier on Monday. Axley solidified his status on TOUR when he won the 2006 Valero Texas Open in San Antonio at the end of September.
- There have been only two players who moved their way into a PGA TOUR berth by winning the Nationwide Tour Championship. Steve Flesch (1997) and Bob Heintz (1999) were both on the outside looking in when those tournaments started. Flesch moved from No. 24 to No. 4 on the money list with his victory, only the second in Tour history by a lefty, at the Grand National Golf Club in Opelika, AL. Heintz arrived in Dothan, AL, No. 16 on the money list and eventually jumped to No. 6 with his playoff win over Marco Dawson at the Highland Oaks Golf Club.
- David Duval still holds a place in the record book on the strength of his efforts at the inaugural Tour Championship in 1993 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Cornelius, OR. Duval is the last player on Tour to make a hole-in-one in the final round of a tournament and then go on win that event. Duval’s ace helped him beat Danny Briggs by one shot. Despite his win, Duval did not earn a PGA TOUR card that year, finishing No. 11 on the money list (only 10 PGA TOUR cards were available that year). Duval returned to the Tour in 1994 and wound up eighth on the money list to secure his PGA TOUR privileges for 1995.
- Rees Jones is once again in the news this week, having designed the Houstonian Golf and Country Club. Jones also designed the Ralston Creek Course in Charleston, SC, site of the PalmettoPride Classic three weeks ago. Jones, the youngest son of famed golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, has designed and renovated courses from coast to coast. Among those courses influenced by the younger Jones are: The Country Club at Brookline, Congressional Country Club, Baltusrol Golf Club, Hazeltine National Golf Club and East Lake Country Club in Atlanta, site of THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola last week.