Pine Needles Classic: Fields, Bare, Sanchez Among Entries
There will be a strong local flavor to the field of the eGolf Tour Pine Needles Classic being played at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club and Seven Lakes County Club Wednesday through Saturday.
Jack Fields of Southern Pines, one of the top amateur golfers in country until turning professional last fall after leaving the University of North Carolina program; Andy Bare of West End; and David Sanchez of Pinehurst are among the 184 players competing for a share of the $200,000 purse.
Bare is a veteran of the eGolf Tour and is a provisional member of the Nationwide Tour. Also in the field are Lance Jordan of Fayetteville and Chip Lynn of Hope Mills.
This is the eGolf Tour’s sixth appearance in the Sandhills over the past four years. Current PGA Tour players Tom Gillis and Jason Kokrak were former winners of the event, while Kokrak and Scott Brown won titles in the Bushnell Classic held at Little River Golf Resort.
The public is invited to attend the tournament at both courses with no admission charge.
Tadd Fujikawa of Hawaii is one of the more recognizable players on the eGolf Tour. As a 15-year-old amateur, Fujikawa captured the national spotlight when he qualified for the 2006 U.S. Open, the youngest player ever to do so.
He made the cut in the Sony Open in Hawaii at the age of 16 years and four days, the second youngest player to achieve that feat in a PGA Tour event.
Although he has been unable to attain his PGA Tour card as of yet, Fujikawa has had some brilliant moments during his professional career, including posting a third-round 62 in the 2009 Sony Open.
Fujikawa is the smallest player on the tour, standing just 5-foot-1. He was born three months premature and given only a 50-50 chance to live by doctors. As an infant, he fit into the palm of his grandfather’s hand.
Fujikawa won his first eGolf Tour title at the Tour Championship in August 2010 and finished fourth on the money list that year. He had a tie for 19th finish in the Sony Open earlier this year.
Sanchez is one of five former N.C. State golfers in the field, joined by Matt Hill, Brandon Detweiler, Jerry Richardson and Brad Revell.
Former UNC players besides Fields are Dustin Bray, Henry Zaytoun and Fernando Figueroa. Adam Long and Clark Klaassen both attended Duke.
Hill, a Canadian, won the 2009 NCAA Individual Championship while competing for the Wolfpack. He won a record-tying nine individual titles in Division I during 2009, sharing that feat with Tiger Woods. He has been granted nine exemptions into PGA Tour events since that feat.
Hill turned professional in 2010 and is competing full time on the eGolf Tour. His best finish so far has been as runner-up at St. James Plantation in April 2011.
Another strong contender is Brian Bateman, winner of the PGA Tour’s Buick Open in 2007. The former LSU All-American has 208 career starts on the PGA Tour and 151 starts on the Nationwide Tour.
Players entered represent 25 states and 14 countries.
The format is 72 holes of stroke play, with the field split over Pine Needles and Seven Lakes the first two days before being cut to the low 33 percent and ties.
Pine Needles is a Donald Ross-designed course that has hosted Women’s U.S. Opens in 1996, 2002 and 2007.
Seven Lakes, located in West End, is an outstanding course designed by the late Peter Tufts and has been named course of the year for three consecutive years by the Sandhills Golf Association.
Gator Todd of Florence, Ala., in his third year as a member of the eGolf Tour, has been granted an exemption into the European Tour’s King Hassan II Trophy, to be conducted in Agadir, Morocco, March 22-25, 2012.
The King Hassan II Trophy, which traditionally pairs professionals with amateurs in a Pebble Beach-style format, was recognized as an official European Tour event for the first time in 2010 as part of The Race to Dubai.
The event was first contested in 1971 and boasts past champions such as Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Nick Price, Seve Ballesteros and Lee Trevino.
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