by Jeff Skinner
Even though the PGA Tour has played its last “official event” of the season that doesn’t mean there won’t be some exciting golf to follow this weekend. There is the “unofficial” CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia where two dozen Americans are teeing it up. The European Tour is still going hard and staying in Spain at The Andalucia Masters featuring the reborn Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Graeme McDowell. And IMG is putting on its invitation only Shanghai Masters where Rory McIlroy leads as he tries to win the largest winner’s check in golf, two million dollars.
But if you really want good golf, intensity and drama you needn’t look any further then the Nationwide Tour. The PGA Tour’s training ground closes the season with the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island. This tournament is part Tour Championship, part Q-School and part coronation with the pressure of a major championship thrown in for good measure.
These men have played all season with the goal of finishing in the top 25 on the money list. The top twenty five money winners get that elusive magic ticket: a PGA Tour Card. Each week we watch the PGA Tour play for a million dollar first place check. Each week these guys check the standings to see if they are in the top 25. Well, this week decides it all.
Needless to say life on the Nationwide Tour is a bit different from the PGA Tour. There are no private planes or million dollar paydays but you can earn a good living. Money leader J.J Killeen has earned over $400,000 but let’s put that in perspective. The 50th spot on the Nationwide Tour Money List netted $112,980. The PGA Tour’s 50th slot earned Ben Crane $1,629,595. Life on the big tour pays off.
There are plenty of Nationwide players that are already certain of earning their card. But the $180,000 winner’s check means that any of the 60 players can jump up the money list and earn their card. All 60 of these men have a chance to achieve their dream of playing on the PGA Tour and it will all be decided over these four rounds.
The thrills and heartbreak that takes place during this tournament is as emotional as any major championship. Making the top 25 is a life changing event for these fortunate few as they achieve their dream of playing in the big leagues. The closing ceremony sees the top 25 handed their 2012 PGA Tour Cards. It’s one of the most emotional moments of the season and certainly worth watching.