However, this is the last year of the four-year contract between the tournament and the Nationwide Tour. The community can do its part to keep the tournament here by volunteering to help with the event and/or by coming out to support these golfers. At $25 for a week long clubhouse badge, or $10 ($5 for students) daily grounds ticket, there is not a better sports entertainment value in Athens, especially at this time of the year.
Unlike the PGA Tour, most of these players are young and hungry, and nationwide Tour events are more fan accessible and friendly. Players routinely stay with local families, and you will see many of the players (and their caddies) enjoying the Athens nightlife.
Yesterday was media day for the event, and the four sponsor's exemptions for the event were announced. Three of these players have local ties.
Kevin Kisner was a member of the 2005 UGA national championship team and a four-time honorable mention All-American during his collegiate career. He was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Year in 2003.
He also excelled off the course as a two-time Cleveland Golf Scholar All-American. Kisner had victories on both the Tarheel and Hooters yours last year and finished in the top-20 in the year-long money list on both of those tours.
Blake Adams graduated from Gatewood Schools in Eatonton and played for three seasons at the University of Georgia before transferring to Georgia Southern University to complete his collegiate career.
While at Georgia Southern, Adams earned First Team All-Southern Conference honors and led the team in stroke average as well as top 10 finishes. He has four professional victories, with the most recent coming at the Columbia Open on the Tarheel Tour in 2008.
Keith Guest is a 2003 graduate of Athens Academy. He played collegiately at Augusta State University, where he is now the assistant coach.
He was named a Cleveland Golf Scholar All-American in 2007 and named to the PING All-South Region team in 2008.
Ben Bates is a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour, capturing the Wichita Open in 1997 and the Reese's Cup Classic in 2004.
He was a member of the PGA TOUR from 1998–2001 and is the all-time leader in starts and cuts made on the Nationwide Tour.
This tournament is known for the amount of local and regional media coverage the event receives. This year, they are exploring new ways of reaching fans, both serious and casual, through the use of social networking tools and sites like Facebook. In fact, you can visit the event's Facebook page and share it with your Facebook friends. They are also exploring creative ways they can use Twitter for the event.
- Kevin Kisner photograph courtesty of the University of Georgia Athletic Department
- Keith Guest photograph courtesy of the Augusta State University Athletic Department
- Blake Adams photograph Copyright 2008 by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR/Getty Images. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
- BenBates photograph Copyright 2008 by Dave Martin/Getty Images. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.