What began as an ambitious idea by hotelier and philanthropist John Q. Hammons to bring the future of the PGA Tour through the Ozarks has become a major force for children’s charities across southwest Missouri. And now look what is celebrating its 30th birthday this weekend.
The Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, a part of the Path to the PGA TOUR on what’s now the Korn Ferry Tour, opens play Thursday and runs through Sunday at Highland Springs Country Club. In fact, the tournament helps determine 50 PGA Tour cards for next season. And, off the greens, the tournament itself has been huge for Ozarks children’s charities, having gifted more than $15.6 million throughout its history.
“We’re expecting great weather for what should be a great tournament. And you never know if one of the players in our field will be the next Bubba Watson, Stewart Cink or Chris Demarco,” PCCC Executive Director Jerald Andrews said, referring to former Korn Ferry Tour standouts who went on to become notable names on the PGA Tour.
The purse is $700,000, with the winner to receive $126,000.
Who to watch
The Korn Ferry Tour’s points leader, Zinjun Zhang, has demonstrated himself as the man to beat, with five top-three finishes in 17 starts. Then there is Henrik Norlander, Chad Ramey, Andres Gonzales and Dawie van der Walt.
Entering the week at No. 8 on the Top 25 list, Norlander has secured a PGA TOUR return but is motivated to chase down Zhang for the No. 1 spot and fully exempt TOUR status. He finished runner up at Highland Springs last year. Ramey has three top-15s in his past five starts, moving to the precipice of The 25. Gonzales notched a runner-up finish in Omaha, moving from outside the top-150 to inside the top-75 on The 25, and the two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner doesn’t shy away from moments in contention. Gonzales led last week’s field in birdies made.
Van der Walt two weeks ago nearly completed the ‘South African Slam’ at the TPC Colorado Championship, finishing in the top three as countrymen Dylan Frittelli and Retief Goosen captured PGA TOUR-sanctioned titles. The 36-year-old won at Highland Springs in 2015. Higgs, a Kansas City native, is No. 16 on The 25, with five top-25s in his last six starts.
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Honoring Our Heroes
Returning is the Honoring Our Heroes presented by N Route Enterprises in which all retired or current military, law enforcement and first responders – and their immediate families – will be admitted free. Tickets, which also are good for the Jackson Brothers of the South Ozarks (food & beverage) tent, can be picked up at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Honor guards will march the U.S. and Missouri flags to the No. 1 tee box at 7 a.m. each day. Beginning Thursday, it’ll be the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, followed by the Springfield Police Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Army National Guard. A national guardsman will man 18th hole on Sunday.
They range from a $10 daily badge to several four-day passes with grounds access: $100 clubhouse badge ( access to unrestricted areas of clubhouse), $150 Jackson Brothers of the South Ozarks Club badge (food & beverage tent), $250 skybox (skybox seating, Ozarks Club acces, clubhouse), $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket (1-in-8,000 chance of winning either a 2019 Toyota Tundra or $10,000). FREE TICKETS (One grounds pass): For Thursday’s round: Visit empower:abilities (formerly Southwest Center for Independent Living) at 2864 S Nettleton Ave. in Springfield. For Friday’s round: Visit OakStar Bank at 1020 E Battlefield Road in Springfield