On Grand Strand Golf: Web.com Tour Championship headed elsewhere

October 29, 2012 

Daniel Island Company President Matt Sloan believed more than a month ago the 2013 Web.com Tour Championship would be played in the Jacksonville, Fla., area rather than at his club, and the PGA Tour has confirmed it.

Daniel Island Club was called one of three finalists for the event in September by Web.com Tour president Bill Calfee, but the Dye’s Valley course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., has been chosen as the host site.

Both the Web.com company and PGA Tour, which operates its feeder Web.com Tour, are headquartered in or near Ponte Vedra Beach.

Daniel Island Club, which is about 90 miles south of Myrtle Beach, hosted the tour championship from 2009-11 at its Ralston Creek course. The event moved to TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, this year because the Charleston area hosted the PGA Championship in August and it was going to be too much to ask of the community to support a second event so soon.

Both tour and Daniel Island Club officials expressed interest in bringing the tournament back in 2013, but the site lost some support after Web.com replaced Nationwide insurance as the tour’s title sponsor in July.

The 2013 tour championship will be the culmination of the new four-event ‘Web.com Tour Finals’ that will determine 50 PGA Tour cards for 2014. The tour championship has been the final determinant in the awarding of 25 PGA Tour cards annually for the past several years.

Web.com Tour director of communications Jeff Adams said Monday the tour intends to close the next three Web.com Tour seasons at the TPC Sawgrass, but details of the final two years of the agreement are still being finalized. The first three events in the finals all have three-year agreements beginning next year.

Daniel Island Club, which has hosted the Women’s Tennis Association’s Family Circle Cup for the past 12 years, remains interested in hosting the tour championship, or possibly another significant event, in the future.

“We enjoyed being the host site for the championship in the past and believe our facility is set up well for the event,” Sloan said. “We would welcome the opportunity to be a host site for the championship again in the future, absolutely.”

The tour championship will be played Sept. 26-29 following an off week on the Web.com Tour and during an open week on the PGA Tour following the end to its reworked season. All four rounds of the $1 million event will be televised on Golf Channel.

The first three events in the finals are the Aug. 29-Sept. 1 Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Sept. 5-8 Chiquita Classic at The Club at Longview outside Charlotte, N.C.; and Sept. 12-15 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio.

Players who are eligible for the four-event finals are the top 75 money winners on the Web.com Tour regular season money list, and PGA Tour members or non-members who finish from 126-200 on the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup points list at the end of the regular season.

The 25 leading money winners on the Web.com Tour will be guaranteed cards at the end of the regular season. Another 25 cards will go to those players who earn the most cumulative money in the four finals events. The Web.com Tour’s regular season and finals money leaders will have the top priority among the 50 players in PGA Tour exempt status.

Sloan believes the tour championship and Family Circle Cup are worthwhile and have had positive effects on his club’s exposure, stature and sales.

“It takes a lot of work, and you need a host organization and sponsors, but we’d certainly be interested in bringing the tour championship back here if that’s what they want,” Sloan said. “The operation of the event is something we know how to do and do very well, but handling the sponsorship side of it is a lot of work.”

Carolina crew swells

Many of the top players on the PGA Tour are from the Carolinas, and the two-state region will have an even stronger presence on the tour in 2013, as five of the 25 members of the 2012 Web.com Tour who earned PGA Tour cards Sunday are from either the Palmetto or Tar Heel states.

The top 25 money winners on the Web.com Tour at the conclusion of Sunday’s Web.com Tour Championship earned 2013 PGA Tour playing privileges. They include No. 8 Ben Kohles of Cary, N.C., who attended Virginia; No. 9 and Tour Championship winner Justin Bolli of Simpsonville, who attended Georgia; No. 13 Cameron Percy of Raleigh, N.C., a native of Australia; No. 17 Darron Stiles of Pinehurst, N.C., who attended Florida Southern; and No. 18 and Canadian native Brad Fritsch of Holly Spring, N.C., who attended Big South Conference member Campbell.

Carolinas residents or natives on the PGA Tour include Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, Carl Pettersson, Kyle Stanley, Jonathan Byrd, Lucas Glover, Johnson Wagner and Tommy Gainey.

Media event growing

More than 30 members of the media who write or report about golf in the U.S. and Canada were among 44 players who participated in Mystical Golf’s second annual 54-hole Golf Media and Guest Tournament from Oct. 14-17.

Rounds were played on Mystical Golf’s Man O’War, Wizard and Witch layouts; Sea Mist Resort was the host hotel; and entertainment included a viewing of One The Show at Alabama Theatre and a dinner party at Wild Wing Café. Participation increased from 28 players in 2011.

“It was a great turnout this year,” said Claude Pardue, president and CEO of DG Golf Management, which operates the three courses and Mystical Golf website. “The decision we’re going to have in a couple years from now if it keeps growing like it is – and we think it will, there’s no reason why it won’t – we’ll come to the point where if we get to in the range of 60 or 68, we’ll really might want to stop the growth at that.

“I never want it to get to where we can’t sit down and have personal conversations. … It just seems like a better, homey feel to me.”

What makes the tournament unique is media members can invite a playing partner. Sometimes it’s another member of the media and sometimes it’s not. “One of ideas to get people excited about it is to let them invite a friend,” Pardue said. “So if they just invite their best buddy, we’re cool with that.”

The Golf Writers Association of America held its championship in Myrtle Beach for 51 years through 2005, when Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday stopped hosting the event. DG Golf Management partnered with David Wood of Buffalo Communications to start its event.

“We hope to get exposure from it,” Pardue said. “I actually think Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday has made a mistake in giving up the media tournament they had around the Masters. … Because they no longer sponsor a media tournament, David and I figured there’s a vacuum and we have an opportunity to bring a lot of media in here. We can bring them in here and over a three-day period show them what we have to offer.”

Lyons to have company

North Myrtle Beach High graduate Tara Lyons has helped convince one of the top junior golfers in the state to join her next year at Louisville.

Louise Oxner, a past Class AAA state individual champion who helped Greenville claim the AAA girls team state title last Tuesday at the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina, has signed to play for the Cardinals.

Lyons is a junior at Louisville and has played in both the No. 1 and No. 2 slots in the order, and the Cardinals are among the teams considered to have a shot to win the Big East championship this upcoming spring.

Oxner said Lyons’ presence on the team had a bearing on her decision. “I knew her before I went on the visit, and since I’m going to be 7 hours away, knowing somebody who’s going to be on the team is a big help,” Oxner said. “And she’s pretty cool.”

Louisville won its own tournament this fall, finished fifth in an event at Colorado State and has finished ninth and 11th in two other tournaments. Lyons has a tie for 15th and two other top-30s in four events, and is tied for 15th in The Alamo Invitational at even-par 74-70—144 entering Tuesday’s final round.

Lyons and Oxner have kept in touch throughout Lyons’ time at Louisville via text messages and phone calls. It’s unlikely Oxner would have considered Louisville or known much about the program without Lyons’ input.

“She didn’t really have to talk me into it too much because I just really liked it a lot, but she was a big influence, I would say,” Oxner said.

To view Blondin’s blog,, Green Reading, or Twitter page visit myrtlebeachonline.com.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 843-626-0284.

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