Wichita Open offers PGA hope for many
BY Bruce Young | Web.com Tour | 2008 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open | Preview | 06 Aug 2008
With the spotlight of world golf well and truly on Oakland Hills in Michigan this week, there are not a lot of other professional events vying for attention although the Nationwide Tour’s Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open will be played at the Crestview Country Club in Wichita, Kansas.
The US$525,000 event is played over a Robert Trent Jones Sr and Jr designed layout, built in 1969 and used as the venue for this event since 2001.
The field assembled is not particularly strong with only three players from the current top ten on the Nationwide Tour money list, Casey Wittenberg, Jeff Klauk and Kris Blanks, in the field. Many players will see this week as an opportunity to rest up following a series of more lucrative events and before more such events in the coming weeks.
That does however leave the door open for others seeking to make progress in their quest for PGA Tour status in 2009.
Jeff Klauk is a previous winner of this event at this golf course when he defeated Mark Hensby and Mike Brisky in a playoff to win in 2003. Klauk won earlier in the season but in recent weeks he has missed several cuts. His 6th place at last week’s Cox Classic however gives him some hope of a second win at Crestview.
Casey Wittenberg is a much improved golfer in 2008, the 2003 US Amateur runner up already guaranteed of USPGA Tour status in 2009. Wittenberg has not won this season but has been inside the top three on three occasions and looks well placed in this event.
Kris Blanks won earlier in the season but his form of late has been all over the place. After an opening 65 last week in Nebraska, he missed the cut and a few weeks earlier opened with a 68 at the Rex Hospital event only to shoot 84 in the final round. When good, Blanks is very good and when not, anything can happen.
The leading two players on the Nationwide Tour this season are Australians. Jarrod Lyle and Greg Chalmers have however decided to sit this one out but Aron Price, who still needs perhaps US20,000 to be assured of his PGA Tour card, is in the field.
Ewan Porter is another who needs a good week after a good start to the season he is now in 20th place and perhaps $US45,000 short of where he needs to be in order to have PGA Tour status in 2009.
Andrew Bonhomme, Steve Bowditch, Stephen Dartnall, Scott Gardiner, Brad Hughes, Brad Iles, Brad Lamb, Won Joon Lee, Marc Leishman, David Lutterus, David McKenzie, Wade Ormsby, Cameron Percy and Grant Waite make up the field for the down under contingent.