The Nationwide Tour announced Oct. 13 the creation of the Chile Classic presented by Pacific Rubiales, the first official PGA Tour event in the South American country.
The Chile Classic, which will be played March 8-11 at Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago, is part of the Tour’s further expansion into Latin America.
“With golf being added to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the Chile Classic takes on additional significance in contributing to the growth of the game in the region during the run up to the Games,” Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee said.
The Chile Classic will likely be part of a Latin American swing to start the next Nationwide Tour season. The Nationwide Tour has large gaps in its early-season schedule, a problem it hopes to address with additional events in Latin America.
The Nationwide Tour added an event in Colombia, the Bogota Open, in 2010. The tour also conducts events in Mexico and Panama. The Panama and Colombia events kicked off the 2011 season in February and March. Adding the stop in Chile allows the Nationwide Tour to begin with three consecutive events, giving the tour a “more stable, more impactful” start to its season, Calfee told Golfweek.
Calfee said earlier this year that the tour also is looking at adding another event in Colombia and one in the Dominican Republic, as well.
“There’s definitely interest,” he said.
The PGA Tour and Tour de Las Americas are also in discussions to form a tour that would serve as a feeder to the Nationwide Tour.
The Chile Classic will feature 144 players competing for a $600,000 purse. Exemptions will be granted to the four leading money winners from the 2011 Tour de Las Americas order of merit. The tournament will also have eight unrestricted sponsor exemptions, six of which will be designated for Latin American players from Latin America.
Pacific Rubiales Energy, the Chile Classic’s presenting sponsor, is the title sponsor of the Bogota Open.
This is the second new event the Nationwide Tour has announced in the past month. It recently announced the United Leasing Championship, which will be played next June near Evansville, Ind.