Some of the best golfers in the world are in Columbus this week attempting to remain on the PGA Tour or begin their careers at the next level.
Play at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship at Ohio State's Scarlet Course begins today. Mike Foley reports.
Up until this year, Columbus had been just another stop on the Web.com Tour. But tour officials created a four-tournament finals event featuring a mix of PGA Tour pros trying to keep their eligibility and the top 75 Web.Com golfers. 25 of those have already clinched a spot on the PGA Tour and are playing for positioning - but these final four tournaments determine the remaining 25 spots available. The Columbus tournament marks the third of the four events. Bill Calfee, president of the Web.com Tour, views the new format as golf's version of expansion.
BC - These guys have the game to play at the highest level, but we just don't have room for them on the PGA Tour. You've heard all these numbers before that three out of four players on the PGA Tour come from the Web.com Tour. What you may not have heard is that 50 percent on the Web.com Tour have come from the PGA Tour. This will be golf at the highest level because there's so much at stake.
The championship at scarlet includes several familiar names including Chris DiMarco, Jonathan Byrd, Trevor Immelman, Sean O' Hair, Ricky Barnes and Ostrander native Ben Curtis. Ben Kohles won last year's event in July and returns as defending champion.
BK - I was hitting it really well. It was a little softer last year. I think it will be firmer and faster this year and I think you'll see the scores maybe around the same or a little lower. Nationwide Children's Hospital remains the primary beneficiary of the tournament. John Aman, president of Champions of the Community, says 2-point-7 million dollars has been raised for pediatric cancer treatment and research since 2007. JA - The pediatric oncology work that's done at Nationwide Children's Hospital gets significant benefits from this. It's worth it to present this cause, this hospital beyond our central Ohio borders. Obviously people that need treatment know about it, but I think by raising the profile of the hospital other people that have charity in their heart can also look and say I'd like to support what that hospital does there. So it takes a lot of work, it costs some money to do it but it's all going for a great cause. As part of the tournament, young cancer patients had the opportunity to hit some shots with one of the pros. PM - I live an incredibly joy-filled life and to have the opportunity to share that with someone is priceless, so it's a cool opportunity to do that. Peter Malnati gave the kids some instruction and at times ran out and posed as one of the targets they were attempting to hit. Craig Richardson says he appreciates the time and attention Malnati gave his daughter. CR - This is an incredible opportunity to be out here and work with a pro golfer. We're so fortunate to have this hospital in town and to have the golf tournament is a great combination. For Madeline, what she's been through over the last few years, this is what we call one of the blessings of cancer to be able to do something like this. It's awesome. MR - It's really fun to come out and shoot with everybody. Q - What was your favorite part of the day? MR - When I hit the K and it went up and he caught it. Madeline also earned the honor of hitting the first tee shot to begin the first round. Through Sunday, the tournament will also accept donations of games, toys and crafts to benefit kids in the hospital's Pediatric Cancer Unit.