Professional golf will return to North Central West Virginia next summer.

The Nationwide Tour stop will be played at the Pete Dye Golf Club Aug. 23-26 and will again be sponsored by the National Mining Association, tournament organizers announced Thursday.

It will be the second straight year the National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic will be played in late August after being staged in July during 2004 and 2005.

“The National Mining Association is honored to once again be associated with the Nationwide Tour and the 2007 Pete Dye Classic,” said Kraig Naasz, president and CEO of the National Mining Association. “The Pete Dye Classic and the Nationwide Tour have grown in popularity. Our ongoing support, we believe, will help maintain this as one of the Nationwide Tour’s top events.”

The tournament has its roots in December of 2003, when the PGA Tour and former Gov. Bob Wise announced that West Virginia would host a new $600,000 Nationwide Tour event at the Pete Dye Golf Club.

The inaugural Pete Dye West Virginia Classic Presented by National Mining Association attracted 156 golfers and strong crowds of spectators.

D.A. Points held on during the fourth and final round to win the first classic and $108,000. Points, at 23-under-par 265, finished five strokes in front of Nick Cassini.

In 2005, the National Mining Association became the title sponsor of the tournament, moving up after the state provided major financial backing the first year.

Jason’s Gore’s popular victory in July 2005, which helped him advance to the PGA Tour and a victory at the 84 Lumber Classic, added luster to the tournament in its second year.

Gore entered as a fan favorite after playing in the final group the previous month at the U.S. Open. Gore, who had not had a victory since 2002, won with a 17-under-par 271. He clinched the victory with a four-foot par putt on the final hole in front of a gallery that included his wife, son and parents.

In 2006, thanks to a final-round four-under-par 68, Jason Enloe finished regulation in a tie with Boo Weekley at 14-under-par 274. He then made an eight-foot par putt on the first playoff hole to claim victory.

“We are delighted to once again have the National Mining Association as the sponsor of the Pete Dye Classic,” tournament director Tim McNeely said. “Their support has helped this event grow in popularity and continues to help showcase West Virginia and its many offerings to a growing international audience on The Golf Channel.”

Founded in 1990, the Nationwide Tour is owned and operated by the PGA Tour from its Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., headquarters. It has sent 498 players to the PGA Tour over the past 17 seasons, including such familiar names as Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Stewart Cink, David Toms, John Daly, Chris DiMarco and Tom Lehman. Former Nationwide Tour players have won 194 PGA Tour titles, including 10 major championships.

For further information on the Pete Dye Classic or to become a volunteer or sponsor, call the tournament office at 848-2027.

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

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