eGolf Tour Returns to Action Next Week for the Second Annual Championship at Woodside Plantation
The par-4 ninth at Woodside Plantation
By Stewart Moore
Aiken, S.C. – After a one-week hiatus from tournament play, the eGolf Tour will return to action next week for the second annual Championship at Woodside Plantation, to be contested on the Rees Jones-designed Wisteria Course at Woodside Plantation Country Club in Aiken, SC on August 1-4, 2012.
In 2011, after a decade of countless area players competing on the country’s No. 3 professional golf tour, the eGolf Tour made its maiden voyage to Aiken, SC for the inaugural Scratch Golf Championship, contested on the Jones Course at Woodside Plantation. The event, which was a popular one from the word "go," allowed Ryan Nelson of Houston, TX to claim his first of two wins on the year when he defeated Clark Klaasen of Grand Rapids, MI and Seung-su Han of South Korea in a playoff.
The exciting finish, and the phenomenal venue that is Woodside Plantation, gave way to the event’s 2012 edition, which is sure to be just as exciting.
“We are thrilled to be returning to Woodside Plantation again this year,” said eGolf Tour president David Siegel. “The staff and members welcomed us with open arms and put forth the sense that this was a big-time event, which was a thrill for our players.”
The welcoming nature of the community provided a great intro for the field, which represented over 15 countries. But it was the Rees Jones-designed Wisteria Course that got the week’s top reviews.
Jones, one of the world’s most renowned golf course architects, has been dubbed the “U.S. Open doctor” for his work in restoring some of the USGA’s more cherished venues used for the national championship. Jones’ work on heralded Open courses such as Bethpage Black, Congressional and Torrey Pines often struck fear into some of the game’s biggest stars, but his routing and design on the Wisteria Course offers a nice mix of risk/reward shots that lie tucked amidst the towering South Carolina pines that dot the scenic layout.
Designed in 1987, the 7,083-yard Wisteria Course features four par-4s under 390 yards, but more than makes up for it with six par-4s over 430 yards, including the uphill, 458-yard par-4 ninth. The narrow nature of countless tee shots on Wisteria often leaves players laying back in the name of accuracy, which in turn can take a short-iron approach and morph it into a demanding mid-iron approach instead.
The surprisingly undulating land in the greater Aiken area, and specifically at Woodside Plantation, mirrors that of one of the game’s most hallowed venues – Augusta National Golf Club – located just 30 minutes away.
The elevation changes on the Wisteria Course force players to approach greens with pinpoint accuracy and distance control, as compensating for uphill and downhill approaches often makes scoring more difficult.
Two of the more scenic drops on the course are at the par-3 eighth and the par-3 17th, both of which mimic each other in nature, playing downhill to a green perched tight on the banks of Holley Lake.
“The design variation provided by Rees Jones on Wisteria is what makes the course so great,” said Siegel. “You literally have to work the ball both directions and flight it with extreme precision in order to take advantage of your opportunities. It really seems as though no two shots are the same.”
The Championship at Woodside Plantation will feature some of developmental tour golf’s best up-and-coming players. A few players of note already in the field include:
Drew Weaver (High Point, NC)
Weaver, the 2007 British Amateur champion, has been without doubt the hottest developmental tour player in the country over the past three months. Weaver has notched two wins and four runner-up finishes in his last eight starts on the eGolf Tour, dating back to a T2 at the Columbia Open in May. During that stretch, he eclipsed $100,000 in single-season earnings, in turn ascending to No. 1 on the tour's money list. Weaver is the seventh player since 2008 to reach six figures in year-long earnings on the eGolf Tour, and the fastest ever to do so. Of the six other players to move past the $100K mark in single-season earnings, four are currently on the PGA TOUR: Jason Kokrak (2010), Tommy Biershenk (2010), Scott Brown (2009) and Roberto Castro (2008).
Blayne Barber (Lake City, FL)
One of the more heralded college golfers over the past three years, Barber will be making his first career eGolf Tour start just one week after making his professional debut at the Web.com Tour's Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational. Barber, who left Auburn University this past May after his junior year, earned first-team "All America" honors in 2012, while notching second-team "All America" honors in both 2011 and 2010. A member of the 2011 U.S. Walker Cup team, Barber broke the 36-year-old Auburn scoring record with a 70.76 scoring average in the 2011-12 season.
Corbin Mills (Easley, SC)
Former Clemson "All America" selection and winner of the 2011 U.S. Public Links Championship / 2011 Players Amateur will be making his second eGolf Tour start after finishing T15 in his debut at the River Landing Open last week. Mills turned professional following the conclusion of the Tigers' 2012 spring campaign, and made his professional debut at the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship earlier this month. Mills kept his amateur status through early July so that he could represent the U.S. in the 2012 Palmer Cup matches.
Jin Jeong (Melbourne, Australia)Korean-born amateur star became the first Asian player to win the British Amateur when he did so in 2010. That same summer, Jeong notched low amateur honors at the British Open following rounds of 68-70-74-72--282 and a T14 finish. Missed the cut at the 2011 Masters Tournament prior to turning professional, then made three more starts on the PGA TOUR at the Valero Texas Open, The Memorial Tournament and the Greenbrier Classic. Jeong finished runner-up to Drew Weaver in his maiden tour start at the Willow Creek Open in May.
Michael Sims (Bermuda)Current St. Simons Island (GA) resident is just two weeks removed from the eGolf Tour's Southern Open, where he became the first player in tour history to post 59 when he did so via a 12-under effort in the second round at the Country Club of Salisbury (NC). Former University of Rhode Island golfer birdied his first eight holes en route to his record-setting effort. Wound up finishing second on the week when he double-bogeyed the 72nd hole to fall into a playoff with Weaver - which he lost when Weaver birdied the first extra hole.
The week’s festivities will begin with the annual Tuesday Pro-Am at Woodside Plantation, which will feature over 20 eGolf Tour competitors and teams from the club and surrounding area in a 9:00 AM shotgun start. All proceeds from the Pro-Am will go to benefit The First Tee of Aiken – which provides young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop life-enhancing values such as confidence, perseverance and judgment through golf and character education.
The tournament proper will begin on Wednesday morning with the event’s opening round. Following the conclusion of 36 holes on Thursday afternoon, the field will be cut to the low 33 percent and ties for the remaining two rounds, to be contested on Friday, August 3rd and Saturday, August 4th.
Spots are still available for players interested in competing in this second-year event.
For more information on the tournament, or for daily results, please visit the eGolf Tour website at www.egolfprofessionaltour.com.For more information on The First Tee of Aiken, please visit www.thefirstteeaiken.com.