Nationwide Tour looks ahead to 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee told Golfweek he is “99 percent certain” the Nationwide Tour Players Cup, one of the tour’s original $1 million events, will not return in 2010.

The West Virginia-based event had to slash its purse to $600,000 this year, citing struggles in the coal industry.

The Nationwide Tour has survived the down economy well. It may lose a few events next year, but is also looking at adding new tournaments, Calfee said.

“Worst-case scenario, we could probably be at 26 (events). I think we’re going to be around 28,” he said. The tour had 29 events in ’09, one fewer than the previous year. “Frankly, there may be a couple of events that need to go anyway, regardless of the economy, . . . that aren’t having the impact we hoped they would.”

Calfee declined comment on the location of new events.

“We’ve got a couple new markets we’re looking at. So we’ve got a few good opportunities, and about three or four events that are really on a watch list, that we’ll know more about in the next 60 days, what their status is.”

In 2008, the Nationwide Tour Players Cup and Tour Championship were the first Nationwide events to offer a $1 million purse. This year, the Tour Championship and first-year Soboba Classic are scheduled to have $1 million purses.

• • •

Jeff Gallagher, 44, is trying to earn a PGA Tour card for the first time since 2003. He entered the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational at 24th on the money list, but a back injury may hamper his quest for a Tour card.

Gallagher missed the cut in Columbus after shooting 72-74 and fell to 27th on the money list. He had an MRI a week earlier that revealed a herniated disk and bulging disk in his back. Gallagher said he was going to see a doctor this week to discuss treatment options.

“I’ve been in a lot of pain,” Gallagher said. “It’s gotten progressively worse and worse. I just came up after Canada and said I have to see a doctor. It’s not right to be hurting every day.”

Gallagher said he would like to avoid surgery. He had surgery in 2001 to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He played seven events that year, then used a medical extension the in ’02 and ’03.

“I know playing through it isn’t the best way,” Gallagher said. “It’s tough. I can still play, but over the long run it’s going to wear me out and it is wearing me out, so I have to figure something out quickly. I’m looking to have one really good week and quit the rest of the year and get it all fixed. That would be the ultimate.”

• • •

Derek Lamely thought he might not get in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, and had made plans to visit the Callaway plant in Dallas to work on his wedges.

Well, Lamely made the field, and it was a touchy chip shot on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff earned the rookie his first Nationwide Tour victory. Lamely got up-and-down and sank a 3-foot par putt on that hole after Fowler missed an 8-footer for par.

Lamely’s playoff victory at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational earned him $139,500 and moved him to No. 12 on the tour’s money list. Lamely would’ve earned the winner’s check even if he lost the playoff because Fowler is an amateur.

Lamely, a rookie, had earned only about $15,000 in seven previous Nationwide starts this year, and hadn’t finished better than T-19. He tied for 13th at the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open earlier this year. That experience was key last week.

“It really helped me with how to keep myself under control of what I need to keep doing, just keep hitting good shots, keep hitting good putts, just try and do the right things as opposed to thinking about things that I can’t control,” he said.

This is Lamely’s first year with Nationwide Tour status after he tied for 145th in his first appearance at the Q-School finals. Lamely, 29, said he has failed to advance out of the second stage of Q-School three times and has played the Tarheel, Hooters and Dakotas tours.

“You know, it’s tough when you see yourself getting better every year and then you kind of maybe miss by a couple at second stage or not playing well at second stage. It does get frustrating,” Lamely said.

“But you can’t – in my case this has been a dream of mine for so long that one week can’t define you. I knew I kept getting better, so as long as I was getting better, I said I’d keep playing. So that was my deal. I told myself as long as I was getting better, I’ll keep going.”

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