Week-long event to take place July 14-20
SIKESTON -- After a two-year layoff, the NGA/Hooters Tour will return to the Bootheel Golf Club in Sikeston this summer.
The tour has scheduled a full week of events, beginning July 14, running through July 20.
"It's a chance for people that have never experienced a big-time golf event to come out and see some of the top players in the world," said Bootheel professional Jeff Ketterman. "It's also a way for us to kick something back into the community. We're very excited about the tour coming back."
The tour is also excited about returning to Sikeston.
"Every player I've talked to has said this was the best event we had (on the tour)," said NGA regional tournament director Ryan Waters. "The community here really came out and supported the event. I'm really excited about what this year will bring."
The Hooters Tour is considered the third most prestigious tour in golf, behind the PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour, formerly known as the Nike and Buy.com tours. Forty-two percent of players who earned their 2003 PGA Tour Card started their careers on the Hooters Tour. Fifty percent of players that earned full exempt status on the Nationwide Tour have played on the Hooters Tour in the past.
"Any one of these guys could be playing on the (PGA) tour," said Ketterman. "These boys are good players."
The tour has produced such high-profile names as Tom Lehman, Lee Janzen and John Daly, as well as up-and-coming PGA talents like David Toms, Jim Furyk, John Rollins and Chad Campbell.
"Our players have had a lot of success on the larger tours," said Waters. "It's surprising sometimes. A city like Sikeston will give you a bigger-event feel than a city like St. Louis will. Our tour is like a minor league tour, and kind of gets lost in the shuffle in the bigger cities. We're planning to make it as special as it has been in the past here."
The week will start on Monday, July 14 with a local qualifying tournament. There, local golfers will fight for 10 open spots in the NGA/Hooters Tournament, which runs Thursday through Sunday.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, July 15-16, there will be two sponsors' pro-ams. Area companies can put together four-man teams and play with a tour professional in a five-man scramble.
The first day of the professional tournament will take place Thursday, July 17. There will be 168 players competing for a $120,000 purse.
After Friday, July 18, the field will cut down to the low 60 golfers, plus ties. All qualifiers that make it into the final rounds are guaranteed a share of the purse. The winner will receive a check for $20,000.
The title sponsor of this year's tournament will be Charter Communications.
"I thought this would be a good opportunity to support the community and get our name out," said Charter general manager Dave Huntsman. "It seems like this tournament draws from all over, and most of the people that come down here have our services available."
Other tournament sponsors include Health Facilities, Sabona of London, Construction Trailer Specialists, Santie Oil, Food Giant, Enterprise, First Security State Bank, Burch Food, Coca-Cola, Ralph Distributing, Mitchell Insurance, Danny's Place, Bootheel Golf Club Men's Association and Eagle Lake Golf Club.
"I think for this community, it's a big event," said Huntsman. "Overall, it's just a great week for somebody that enjoys golfing -- getting an opportunity to meet up-and-coming pros and getting an opportunity to play in the pro-am."
The Hooters tour starts on March 3 in Orlando, Fla.
"Volunteers will be needed," said Ketterman. "There is a need for housing. If anybody here in town would like to be a host family for some of these guys, they can contact me here at (at the Bootheel Golf Club). It will also be an opportunity for some of the younger guys to caddy and make some money."