Nationwide Tour hits the road for 2005
BY Bruce Young | Web.com Tour | 2005 BellSouth Panama Championship | Preview | 27 Jan 2005
This week, the Nationwide Tour begins a schedule that will work its way through thirty events in five different countries and boasts prizemoney of around $US15 million.
The first leg of a three country sweep to start the season begins this week in Panama City, Panama, where the Bell South Panama Championship gets under way as the Nationwide Tour combatants in 2005 look to gain their right to play on the 2006 USPGA Tour.
After a week in Panama the Tour takes a two week break before starting up again in Adelaide where the Jacobs Creek Open at Royal Adelaide will stage the second event of the year although on this occasion the event is co-sanctioned with the Australasian Tour. Following Adelaide it is across to Christchurch in New Zealand for the again co-sanctioned ING New Zealand PGA Championship and then, after a one month break, it is back to mainland USA where the Nationwide Tour will remain for all but two of its next twenty seven events. The two other events outside of the USA are the Canadian PGA Championships in July in Ontario and the Alberta Classic in Calgary in early September.
The Nationwide Tour has its most international flavour in terms of members in 2005 with some 48 non-Americans representing twenty different countries all keen to take their games to the next level.
The Bell South Championship is played over the Panama Golf Club, which was rated as the toughest course on the Nationwide Tour in 2005. Last year’s winner Jimmy Walker was one of only three players to break par for the week, the other two being Tom Scherrer and Ryan Armour.
The field is full of ex-USPGA Tour players, near misses from the Nationwide Tour in 2005 and new recruits all looking to get out of the blocks quickly in 2005.
This year thirteen Australasians are members of the Nationwide Tour but only three will play here namely Steve Alker who last week Monday qualified for the Buick Invitational, previous Kemper Open winner on the USPGA Tour, Grant Waite and Cameron Percy who, although a non-exempt member, gets a start.
The tournament carries prize money of $US525,000.