Many Aussies in Nationwide opener
BY Bruce Young | Web.com Tour | 2011 Panama Claro Open | Preview | 22 Feb 2011
The 2011 Nationwide Tour is in Panama City this week for the Panama Claro Championship, the first of 26 events the Tour will play on its schedule this year. This week’s event is followed by the Bogota Open in Colombia next week.
The Panama City Golf Club will again play host as it has done since the inaugural staging of the event in 2004 when Jimmy Walker won by five shots to begin a remarkable season for him that year.
The course has proven to be demanding over the years, the greens in particular very grainy, the winds strong and the heat a factor. The course has regularly been amongst the most difficult on the Nationwide Tour.
Two time winner Vance Veazy will tee it up again after failing to retain the PGA Tour status he earned via the Nationwide Tour in 2009. The 45 year old has regularly played his trade between the PGA and Nationwide Tours and he is back for more in 2011.
Last year’s champion Fran Quinn is back after a season plagued by injury in 2010. He played only three events on the Nationwide Tour last year and only seven on the PGA Tour but he enjoys the sort of conditions which prevail in Panama having won in Florida and in Asia previously. If he is fit he could be a chance to do well again.
New Zealander Danny Lee who still has another year of exemption on the European Tour intends to focus more attention in the US this year as he acclimatises in preparation for what will hopefully be a career on the PGA Tour in the not too distant future. Lee has made three of four cuts on the European Tour this season.
A feature of the event is the large number of Australasians in the field. Steve Alker, Adam Blyth, Gavin Coles, Stephen Dartnall, Nick Flanagan, Josh Geary, Matt Giles, Mathew Goggin, Brad Iles, Danny Lee, Won Joon Lee, Peter Lonard, David Lutterus, Ewan Porter, Alistair Presnell, Tim Wilkinson and Jake-Younan Wise are all currently entered.
Lonard plays his first ever Nationwide Tour event outside of Australasia looking to get things back on track after his hip and knee surgery last year.