Davidson’s River Run Country Club has hosted its share of golf tournaments over its 23-year history – most at the local and state level, and even a few qualifying events for the U.S. Open.But David Ross, River Run’s director of golf, said the club had to take a big step up in its level of preparation when it hosts its first PGA Web.com Tour event – the Chiquita Classic – next week.“It’s easily the largest golf event we’ve ever hosted here,” said Ross, who has worked at River Run off and on for 18 years, including the last 10 years heading up the club’s golf program.“We had to do quite a bit to meet (the PGA’s) expectations. From the golf course’s standpoint, we know they’re expecting to play in the best conditions and difficulty. We have to raise the level of difficulty quite a bit because we’ve got the best players coming in.”The Chiquita Classic – which will hold its practice and pro-am rounds Sept. 2-4, and tournament play Sept. 5-8 – moves to River Run for the next three years after being played at The Club at Longview in south Charlotte last year. Before that, it was held at TPC River’s Bend in Cincinnati, Ohio.However, this is the first year the Chiquita Classic has extra significance beyond a normal golf tournament.Beginning with this year’s tournament, the Classic is one of four events comprising the Web.com Tour Finals, with the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour and players ranked No. 126-200 in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings after the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro qualifying for the events.Not only is more money at stake – each tournament has a $1 million purse – but 25 “tour cards” on the 2014 PGA Tour will be up for grabs, based on performance over the four events. The top 25 in earnings on the Web.com Tour also get PGA Tour cards, but their seeding can be affected by poor play in the Tour Finals events.That means the field for the Chiquita Classic could have such notable PGA Tour pros as three-time major champions Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh, former British Open champ Ben Curtis, former PGA Championship winner David Toms, and former Masters winners Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir, among others.“When I heard about this opportunity, I knew we had to run with it,” said tournament committee chairman Greg Murphy, who also sits on River Run’s board of directors.“We’ve had some good experience in the past in hosting things like U.S. Open qualifiers and the EGolf.com Tour (a regional professional tour) in the past. But in terms of public exposure and fan participation, this is by far the biggest event we’ve ever hosted.”To prepare for the tournament, River Run has gotten assistance from several area golf courses, including Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte, the host of the Wells Fargo Championship PGA Tour event. Organizers have also put together a volunteer force of well over 600 people to handle everything from parking and crowd control, to concessions and souvenir sales, to serving as course and hole marshals.“The club has never held an event like this, but they’re all enthusiastic about it,” said Thomas Federl, who has been the Chiquita Classic’s tournament director since its inception in 2010. “They really educated themselves before they even put in a bid, or even made their interest known. They were well aware of what they’re getting themselves into.”
Friday, Aug. 23, 2013
A big step for River Run
Want to attend? Tickets for the Chiquita Classic are still available at $15 per day for the tournament rounds (Sept. 5-8), or $45 for a four-ticket block. Children 14 and under are admitted free with a paying adult, as are all active, reserve and retired military and veterans with a valid ID, and their dependents. Admission to practice round and the pro-am days (Sept. 2-4) is also free. Tickets can be purchased online at www.chiquitaclassic.com.
Kiser: 704-895-3662; Twitter: @BKiser_CLTObs
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