By PGATOUR.COM Staff
The Nationwide Tour returns to the Kansas City area for this week’s inaugural Christmas In October Classic. The tournament will be held at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate in Overland Park. This tournament is the third of four first-year events on the 2009 calendar, along with the Michael Hill New Zealand Open (March 9-15), the Stonebrae Classic (March 30-April 5) and the upcoming Soboba Classic (Sept. 28-Oct. 4).
NOT THE FIRST TIME: The Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate has been host to a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event twice before. The Champions Tour made back-to-back visits to the course in 2005 and 2006. Dana Quigley found the 7,172-yard layout to his liking, winning both times. Quigley won the weather-shortened Bayer Advantage Classic in a playoff over Gil Morgan and Tom Watson in 2005 and then captured the Greater Kansas City Classic by three strokes a year later.
END OF AN ERA: In 2005, Jack Nicklaus played his final competitive event on the Champions Tour at the Bayer Advantage Classic at LionsGate. Nicklaus posted scores of 73-73 to tie for 64th. He made his final tournament appearance a little more than a month later, at the British Open at St. Andrews.
COURSE CHANGES: This week’s course layout measures 7,230 yards and will play to a par 71. The biggest changes in the course come at the first and 10th holes. The opening hole will measure 427 yards, compared to 389 yards in 2005-06. The Champions Tour played No. 10 as a 501-yard par 5. This year the hole will measure at 480 yards and be played as a par 4.
GREAT ROOKIES: Several first-year players are enjoying solid rookie seasons on the Nationwide Tour. Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational winner Derek Lamely leads the list of first-year players with his ninth-place standing on the money list. Alistair Presnell, winner of the Moonah Classic in Australia, is No. 17 on the list, followed by Martin Piller (No. 22) and Jonas Blixt (No. 26) and Dustin Risdon (No. 27).
MONEY MATTERS: With 10 tournaments to go in the 2009 season, there are 10 players who have topped the $200,000 mark. Steven Alker holds down the No. 25 spot on the money list with $124,280. At the same point last year, with 10 events remaining, 12 players had earned more than $200,000. Scott Dunlap was No. 25, with $140,483. All 12 of those players from last year went on to earn their 2009 PGA TOUR cards.
‘SIM’PLY SENSATIONAL: Australian Michael Sim continues to sit atop the money list. Sim has now been the Tour’s leading money winner for 14 consecutive tournaments, a streak that matches the fifth-longest streak at No. 1 in Tour history. Tripp Isenhour was atop the list for 14 consecutive weeks in 2006. Tom Lehman holds the record. He held down the top spot for 20 consecutive weeks in 1991.