It’s a big week for sports in Jack Nicklaus’ native Columbus, Ohio. The Nationwide Children’s Championship, played on the Nicklaus-redesigned Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University, gets underway today—hours before the Buckeyes take on the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington. Wednesday night, on the eve of their 2017 campaign, the Ohio State football team continued its tradition of enjoying a team meal at The Ohio State University Golf Club.
Meanwhile, golfers were about to tee it up in the first of four Web.com Tour Finals events.
Jack Willis, a Nationwide Children’s Hospital Patient Champion, hit the First Shot to Fight Cancer at 7:35 a.m. Thursday. TV coverage of round one is from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. EST on Golf Channel. Round two airs Friday on Golf Channel from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. EST. Weekend coverage is Saturday on Golf Channel from 1:00 to 3: 00 p.m. and Sunday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. EST.
This week, the Nationwide Children’s Championship extended its agreement with the Web.com Tour for an additional three years. The event will be played at the Scarlet Course and will continue as a Web.com Tour Finals event through 2021.
“We are proud that The Ohio State University Golf Club and the Scarlet Course will continue to serve as host site, not only for the exposure the tournament provides to what we believe are the best golf facilities in the collegiate community, but most importantly because we enjoy being partners with an event that does so much for charity, principally Nationwide Children’s Hospital, an organization that has enjoyed a longtime academic relationship with The Ohio State University Medical Center,” said Gene Smith, vice president and director of athletics at The Ohio State University. “It is a privilege to be a part of such a great cause.”
The Nationwide Children’s Championship was played as an invitational from 2007 to 2012. The tournament debuted as a Finals event in 2013, when the Web.com Tour became the Path to the PGA TOUR and began awarding all 50 cards for the following PGA TOUR season. The 25 leading money winners from the Web.com Tour Regular Season are guaranteed PGA TOUR cards and another 25 cards will go to those players who earn the most cumulative money in the four Finals events.
This week’s field features a blend of the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour this year and players from the PGA TOUR, who finished Nos. 126-200 on the regular season FedExCup points list, less those with exemptions.
The exempt player from the Web.com Tour Regular Season top 25 will be identified at the conclusion of the four Finals events, using combined Regular Season and Finals money. Therefore, any top-25 player can earn the coveted No. 1 position, if he performs well enough in all four Finals events. A second full exemption will be awarded to the highest cumulative earner based on the four-event Finals’ money list.
The ordering of all 50 players after the Web.com Tour Finals will be done on an alternating basis, using the two lists of card-earners.
When the first Nationwide Children’s Championship was first played at the Scarlet Course in 2007, Jack Nicklaus had just debuted his restorations to the layout. The Golden Bear, a proud alumnus of Ohio State and the 1961 NCAA Champion, essentially donated his services, restoring the original Alister MacKenzie layout for just $1.
“Ever since I was a kid growing up, my intention was to go to Ohio State,” Nicklaus said. “I had a lot of schools across the country talking to me about playing golf, but I just told them not to bother with it; I was going to Ohio State. I enjoyed it and had a great time.
“The opportunity to come back so many years later and to give back was a real pleasure and something I wanted to do. It was very meaningful to me and was a lot of fun. It was a real thrill for me to be involved.”
Golf Digest included the layout on its list of the Best New Private Remodels in 2007. For the past seven years, Golfweek has consistently ranked the Scarlet Course in the top-10 Best Campus Courses nationwide. In addition to Nicklaus, Buckeyes who have played the course and gone on to achieve success on Tour include John Cook, Chris Perry, Joey Sindelar, Ted Tryba, and Tom Weiskopf.
The Scarlet Course is the only course to host a Finals event in all five iterations. It traditionally plays as one of the toughest tests on the Web.com Tour, with winning scores of 12, 6, 5 and 12 under par in the past four years. The course measures a stout 7,445 yards and plays to a par of 71. In 2014, Justin Thomas captured his first Web.com Tour title at the Scarlet Course, kick-starting a career that now includes a major championship victory at the 2017 PGA Championship. Thomas spent two seasons on the Web.com Tour before graduating to the PGA TOUR in 2015.
Last year, PGA TOUR player Grayson Murray came from four shots back on the last day to win the 2016 Nationwide Children’s Championship.
“Winning at the Scarlet put me on the map,” Murray said. “And I relied on that experience to win (the PGA TOUR’s Barbasol Championship) in Alabama in July.”
Since its inception in 2007, the Nationwide Children’s Championship has been a leader in generating charity dollars on the Web.com Tour. Through 2016, the event has raised more than $7.3 million in support of the pediatric cancer program for its primary beneficiary, Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“Nationwide Children’s Hospital is thankful that the Nationwide Children’s Championship, PGA TOUR and The Ohio State University have again decided to continue to bring a highly competitive golf tournament to Central Ohio,” said Steve Allen, MD, chief executive officer of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “The tournament and community’s support of our pediatric cancer program for more than a decade has been evident with the record-breaking donations during the past four years of play. The tournament’s ongoing commitment plays a significant role in helping to raise vital awareness of the hospital’s mission to help children from all over the world.”