What kind of competition might fans expect in this week’s National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic?

If the level matches that of the last Nationwide Tour event — the Xerox Classic that concluded Sunday in Rochester, N.Y. — fans will leave the fourth annual event at the Pete Dye Golf Club satisfied.

Nick Flanagan, a 23-year-old Australian, posted a 7-under-par 63 in the final round to erase a seven-stroke deficit and win the 23rd event of the Nationwide Tour’s 2007 schedule.

It was the third win of the year for Flanagan, and he became the tour’s eighth player to win the battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour. The last was Jason Gore, the Pete Dye Classic champion in 2005.

There is a possibility that Flanagan will be playing here when the Pete Dye Classic gets under way Thursday.

“It’s FedEx Cup time, so he won’t have a place to play (on the PGA Tour) for a few weeks until the fall finish,” said Tim McNeely, who has served as the tournament director for the Pete Dye Classic since its inception.

“Nick is a fantastic player, a former U.S. Amateur champion. He played here last year and helped us with our junior clinic last year. Nick’s still on the fence after his third win (Sunday). He’s still up in the air as to whether he’s going to come here and play or not.”

Flanagan will be eligible for PGA Tour competition at the Turning Stone Resort Championship.

“Making it to the PGA Tour is a dream come true,” said Flanagan, who rolled in 30-footers for birdie on Nos. 16 and 18 to cap his final round in Rochester. “A lot of things went right for me today. Then I rolled in the putt on the last hole, and the rest is history.”

Flanagan, the 2003 U.S. Amateur champion, believes the quality of golf on the Nationwide Tour has him well prepared for his future in professional golf.

“My goal ever since I turned pro was to play out here on the Nationwide Tour and ultimately make it to the PGA Tour,” said Flanagan. “If I wasn’t playing out here and learning, I wouldn’t be as good of a player as I am right now. These guys are so good out here. Playing against them taught me I had to work harder to see results.”

James Driscoll, the runner-up at Rochester who is seeking his first Nationwide Tour win since 2004 at Virginia Beach, is scheduled to be on hand for the Pete Dye Classic.

“It hurts to lead every day and not get it done,” Driscoll said. “It wasn’t nerves. It was just one double bogey, and Nick shot a 63. Congratulations to him. He is a great player and deserves to be on the PGA Tour.”

McNeely said fans will be impressed by the talent level of the 156-player field.

“It’s such a great opportunity to come out and see not only the young guys, the up-and-comers and people who will be stars of tomorrow on the PGA Tour,” he said. “Now, because this tour has become so much of a crossover tour, there are so many players here from the PGA Tour — especially this week opposite the FedEx Cup. That’s a limited-field event.”

Skip Kendall, McNeely noted, is a multi-time PGA Tour winner who will be in the Pete Dye Classic field. Kendall had a hole-in-one at the Xerox Classic last week.

“I throw out this stat fairly often,” McNeely said. “Sixty-seven percent of the current PGA Tour is from the Nationwide Tour. Forty-seven percent of the current Nationwide Tour is over from the PGA Tour.

“Every year, more and more, it becomes an extension of the PGA Tour. For fans, what a great opportunity to come out and watch PGA Tour golf right in your backyard.”

For the second year in a row, the Pete Dye Classic is being held the week of the opening of high school football. Next year, it is scheduled to move back to July, the month it was held in front of excellent crowds in 2004 and 2005.

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

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