The potential for strong fan support is one reason the inaugural Nationwide Tour Players Cup is coming to the Pete Dye Golf Club this week.

Crowds were particularly strong for what was then the Pete Dye Classic in 2004 and 2005, when the event was held in July, though they slipped some the past two years when the tournament’s August dates conflicted with the start of school and football season.

“We’ve had great fan support as it relates to the Nationwide Tour, certainly as it related to our tournaments back in July,” executive director Tim McNeely said. “The Jason Gore year and the D.A. Points year we had fantastic crowds, leading crowds.

“August was kind of a different scenario because we were butting up against football, but we’re happy to be back in a July time frame. With the number of tickets being sold, we are very excited for the fan turnout this year.”

It will be the tour’s first regular-season event to offer $1 million in prize money. First prize for the tournament will be $180,000, and the winner will likely earn a PGA Tour card for 2009.

The top 144 players on the Nationwide Tour money list qualify for the 72-hole Players Cup event at the 7,308-yard, par-72 course. Competition is scheduled Thursday through Sunday, and both live and taped coverage will be featured on The Golf Channel.

Tournament officials were thrilled last December when it was announced that the Nationwide Tour Players Cup would be held at Pete Dye during July.

“Absolutely,” McNeely said. “To be smack dab in the middle of golf season is very helpful. In the middle of summer the golf course should be great. There is not a whole lot going on other than this event.”

Pre-tournament activity continues today with professional practice rounds, a PGA Tour Youth Clinic at noon and Pro-Am Pairings Party at Morgantown’s Waterfront Place Hotel at 6 p.m.

A concert will be held Thursday night.

Ticket information is available at www.playerscup.net.

The previous four tournaments have been memorable.

In 2004, D.A. Points won the inaugural event by a healthy five strokes, shooting a 23-under-par (265). During the second round, Points set a Pete Dye Golf Club course record by shooting 10-under (62) — a record that stands today.

The following year, West Virginia played a pivotal role in the “feel good story of the year” — Jason Gore. After capturing nationwide media coverage at the U.S. Open, where he soared into contention until the final day, Gore continued his hot streak at the Pete Dye Classic.

Capturing his first of three tournament victories in a row, Gore won a “battlefield promotion” directly to the PGA Tour. Gore’s win here helped propel him to a win at the PGA’s 84 Lumber Classic in September.

2006 showcased a dramatic playoff victory by Jason Enloe. The 33-year-old native of Decatur, Ill., claimed his first Nationwide Tour title thanks to a final-round 4-under-par (68). Enloe finished regulation in a tie with Boo Weekley at 14-under-par (274). Enloe drained an eight-foot par putt on the first playoff hole to claim the $108,000 first-place check.

Last summer, Jimmy Walker trailed Parker McLachlin by seven strokes going into the final round but fired a 5-under-par 67 to wipe out the deficit and win by a single stroke over hard-charging Justin Hicks and Matthew Jones. McLachlin had a 77 for his final 18 holes and tied for fourth. Walker was steady with rounds of 68, 70, 68 and 67 for a 15-under 273.

E-mail Cliff Nichols at cnichols@timeswv.com.

Trending Video

Recommended for you