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NATIONWIDE - Cox Classic Preview
From The Sports Network

DATES: Thursday, July 23rd through Sunday, July 26th
SITE: Champions Run, Omaha, Nebraska
COURSE ARCHITECT: Jeffrey Brauer (1992)
PAR: 71
YARDAGE: 7,165
Hole-By-Hole:1 - Par 4 478 Yds10 - Par 5 563 Yds
2 - Par 4 490 Yds11 - Par 4 401 Yds
3 - Par 3 208 Yds12 - Par 3 202 Yds
4 - Par 4 316 Yds13 - Par 4 403 Yds
5 - Par 4 379 Yds14 - Par 4 440 Yds
6 - Par 5 627 Yds15 - Par 4 471 Yds
7 - Par 4 455 Yds16 - Par 3 237 Yds
8 - Par 3 201 Yds17 - Par 5 539 Yds
9 - Par 4 315 Yds18 - Par 4 440 Yds
35 3,469 Yds36 3,696 Yds
Annual:  14th
Television:  Golf Channel - Thursday/Friday -- 12:30-2:30 p.m. (et),
  Saturday -- 6:30-9:30 p.m. (et) - taped
  Sunday -- 7-9:30 p.m. (et) - taped
Defending Champion:  Ryan Hietala
Runner-Up:  David Branshaw
Tournament Record:  258 (Chris Smith, 1997)
54-Hole Record:  192 (Chris Smith, 1997; David Branshaw, 2008)
36-Hole Record:  126 (Ryan Hietala, 2008)
Course Record:  59 (Jason Gore, 2005)
Total Purse:  $725,000
Shares:  1st Place - $130,500; 2nd Place - $78,300; 3rd Place - $49,300
2008 Finish
Ryan Hietala *265Ricky Barnes269
David Branshaw265Gary Christian269
Skip Kendall268Jeff Klauk269
Garth Mulroy268Bill Lunde269
Alex Prugh268Vance Veazey269
Casey Wittenberg269

* - Won in Playoff

Past Cox Classic Winners
YearWinner (Score) -- Runners-Up
2008*Ryan Hietala (265) -- David Branshaw
2007Roland Thatcher (260) -- Jason Day
2006Johnson Wagner (263) -- Craig Bowden
2005*Jason Gore (261) -- Roger Tambellini
2004Charles Warren (267) -- John Elliott
2003Bo Van Pelt (262) -- Craig Lile
2002Jay Delsing (267) -- Anthony Painter
2001Heath Slocum (266) -- Rod Pampling
2000*David Berganio Jr (268) -- Ahmad Bateman
1999Mathew Goggin (264) -- Casey Martin
1998*Matt Gogel (271) -- Jay Williamson
1997Chris Smith (258) -- Barry Cheesman
1996Rocky Walcher (267) -- Michael Christie, Steve Larick

* - Won in Playoff

Note:Formerly called NIKE Omaha Classic (1996-99), BUY.COM Omaha Classic
(2000-02), Omaha Classic (2003).

Top Contenders in the Field
Ryan Hietalamcmc---54thWon
David Branshaw---mc------2nd
Skip Kendall---------mcT-3
Garth Mulroy---------mcT-3
Alex Prugh------------T-3
Vance VeazeyT-38mc---3rdT-6
Gary Christian------mcwdT-6
Roger Tambellini---2nd---T-13T-56
Kevin JohnsonmcT-34T-50mcmc
Dustin Bray------mcmcmc
Cameron Percy---T-16------mc
Jeff GoveT-15T-41---------
Martin Piller---------------
Sports Network Selections

Pick to Win - Vance Veazey
Darkhorse - Bubba Dickerson
Last Week's Pick to Win (Alex Prugh) - Finished tied for 17th
Last Week's Darkhorse (Cameron Percy) - Finished tied for 12th
The Nationwide Tour travels to Omaha, Nebraska this week for the Cox Classic, the 16th of 29 official events in 2009. With the season over half complete, players are vying to reach the top-60 on the money list in an effort to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship. Steve Friesen is currently on the bubble at number 60, just $57 ahead of Marco Dawson.

Last year, Ryan Hietala parred the first playoff hole to defeat David Branshaw and win the Cox Classic at Champions Run. The win was Hietala's second on the Nationwide Tour. His other victory came at the 2005 Louisiana Open. The pair finished regulation at 19-under 265 and headed back to No. 18 for the extra session. At the first playoff hole, the players were on opposite sides of the fairway, but Hietala was in a divot. Branshaw played first and clobbered his approach over the green, Hietala mishit a low bullet into the right fringe. Branshaw had a terrible lie, but pitched four feet past the hole. Hietala ran his third to a foot and tapped in for the par. Branshaw pulled his four- footer, giving Hietala his first win in almost three years.

Hietala will try to become the first player in Nationwide Tour history to successfully defend his title this week. Hietala has made only three cuts in 14 events this year on the Nationwide Tour, with his best finish being a tie for fourth at the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship in March. He is currently 90th on the Nationwide Tour money list with $29,176 in earnings.

In 2007, Roland Thatcher fired rounds of 64-63-68-65 to win the Cox Classic for his second victory of 2007 on the Nationwide Tour. He finished the event at 24-under-par 260 for a one-stroke win over Jason Day. Day shot rounds of 62-63 on the weekend for a total f 125. His final two rounds equaled the lowest 36-hole score in Nationwide Tour history.

In 2005, Jason Gore rolled in a five-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to edge Roger Tambellini for the Cox Classic title, winning his third straight start and earning a "battlefield promotion" to the PGA Tour. Gore fired a 59 in the second round on his way to victory. It was only the third 59 shot on the Nationwide Tour -- and just the seventh in the history of the four major United States professional golf tours.

The automatic promotion goes to a Nationwide Tour player who wins three times in a single season. The previous player to earn the battlefield was Tom Carter in 2003. Gore was the third player to earn the battlefield by winning the Cox Classic (Chris Smith 1997, Heath Slocum 2001). Gore would go on to win the 84 Lumber Classic on the PGA Tour in 2005.

With his win in 2002, Jay Delsing became only the second wire-to-wire winner of this event, joining Chris Smith (1997). This is the 14th year of the event, all hosted by Champions Run, previously called the Champions Club.

The Nationwide Tour moves to Columbus, Ohio next week for the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, where Bill Lunde captured the 2008 title.

07/21 19:38:23 ET

As of July 21, 2009, at 07:38 PM ET

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