FORT WAYNE – Northeast Indiana has played host to some of golfs great players before, whether its been at the Mad Anthonys various charity tournaments (taking place since 1956), the Hogan Tour events in the early 1990s or the Hooters Tour tournaments in Kendallville that stopped in 2001.
Sycamore Hills Golf Club has played host to five national championships recently under the umbrellas of the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America.
But the area hasnt seen anything quite like what begins Thursday, when the 72-hole Hotel Fitness Championship tees off at Sycamore Hills.
There will be a purse of $1 million, with the winner collecting $180,000, and players will be vying for their 2014 PGA Tour cards.
Its the first of four events within the Web.com Tour Finals, and its a chance for the Fort Wayne course to be showcased nationally.
A lot has happened since the tournament was unveiled in September of 2012. Theres been a lot of work behind the scenes, said Tim Benton, the vice president of business affairs for the PGA Tour, who grew up in Richmond and believes his home state will be a terrific host. I get a lot of questions when I travel around the Tour. Whats Sycamore Hills like? Whats Fort Wayne like? Whats the restaurant scene like? Where do I stay? I tell them itll be great Hoosier Hospitality and youll love the golf course.
There will be two Pro-Ams – the Mad Anthonys Pro-Am benefiting the Childrens Hope House today and the Web.com Pro-Am on Wednesday – and then comes the championship.
The other three Finals sites are Charlotte, N.C., Columbus, Ohio, and Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Players must be ranked 126 through 200 on the PGA Tours FedExCup points list and in the top 75 on the Web.com Tour to play in the Finals.
The field at Sycamore Hills includes former Masters champion Trevor Immelman and U.S. Open runner-up Ricky Barnes.
The Golf Channel is very excited to be a part of these four final tournaments, said Billy Kratzert, the Fort Wayne native, professional golfer and sportscaster. Theyve made a huge commitment to go (high definition) with these tournaments.
The tournament will be at Sycamore Hills for at least three years. And tournament organizers are hoping that local sports fans will come out to watch.
Were excited to impress them very much, said Duke Butler IV, who directs the tournament on behalf of the Western Golf Association.