MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- While every player that competes on the NGA Pro Golf Tour has aspirations of teeing it up on the PGA TOUR, the road to the top can be a long one, filled with a myriad of twists and turns.
But thanks to a partnership between the NGA Tour and the Reno-Tahoe Open, one NGA Tour member will get to take the express lane to the PGA TOUR and earn a shot at the "Big Time" this summer.
The leading "member" on the NGA Tour Pro Series money list will be awarded a spot into the 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open.
"I can't thank the Reno-Tahoe Open committee enough for allowing one of our members the opportunity to play in their event, we are ecstatic," said Robin L. Waters, NGA Tour president. "The main purpose of the NGA Tour is to prepare our players to move on to the Nationwide and PGA TOUR. Securing an exemption into an event such as the Reno-Tahoe Open is huge for our players, or should I say 'Big Time.' Golf is a game of opportunities; hopefully, this exemption will help one of our players achieve their lifelong dream of making it to the 'Big Time.'"
Given the list of past winners, the NGA Tour member earning the exemption should feel right at home at the 14th annual event, considering that NGA Tour alumni have won the event for eight years straight.
According to NGA alum and 2011 Reno-Tahoe Open champion Scott Piercy, the relationship is a natural fit.
"The NGA has all the intangibles," said Piercy, a former NGA Tour winner. "They teach you how to travel and play against the best in four-day walking events just like the bigger tours. No other developmental tour prepares you better for life on the Nationwide and PGA TOUR. I know my time out there was a huge part of my development and it's no coincidence that the past eight Reno-Tahoe Open Champions are all NGA alumni."
Reno-Tahoe Open Executive Director Jana Smoley couldn't agree more.
"This partnership between the Reno-Tahoe Open and the NGA is all about hope and the amazing stories behind every successful golfer. Every professional golfer on the PGA TOUR has a great history behind him, and the Reno-Tahoe Open is proud to play a part in the story of a young, up-and-coming golfer," said Smoley. "It is every young golfer's dream to have the chance to play on the PGA TOUR, and we hope that this exemption provides just that opportunity to a PGA TOUR hopeful and shows these young, talented golfers that we want them."
The Reno-Tahoe Open is truly 'BIG TIME' as one of just 47 PGA TOUR events worldwide, and now the only event on the PGA TOUR calendar with a Modified Stableford scoring format. This year's Reno- Tahoe Open takes place July 30-August 5, 2012 at the stunning Montreux Golf & Country Club, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design course and one of the longest on the PGA TOUR.
"We see the NGA Pro Golf Tour as the No. 3 Men's Professional Golf Tour in the United States, after the PGA TOUR and Nationwide Tour," said Waters. "It is the No. 1 recommended developmental tour by more PGA TOUR and Nationwide Tour Professionals, as well. This opportunity to have one of our professionals play in a PGA TOUR event further highlights our Tour as a top-notch developmental tour."
The NGA has helped hundreds of professionals acquire their PGA TOUR, Euro, Nationwide and Champions Tour cards. In fact, NGA alumni have won an incredible 15 "Major" championships.
NGA Alumni include: 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson; 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley; 2010 PGA TOUR Player of the Year and 2003 U.S. Open Champion Jim Furyk; 2009 British Open Champion Stewart Cink; 2009 U.S. Open Champion Lucas Glover; 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson; 2003 PGA Champion Shaun Micheel; 2003 British Open Champion Ben Curtis; two-time U.S. Open Champion Lee Janzen; British Open and PGA Champion John Daly; British Open Champion Tom Lehman; PGA Champion David Toms; 2003 Tour Championship Winner Chad Campbell; 2010 NGA Player of the Year Michael Thompson; 2011 PGA TOUR winners Sean O'Hair, Scott Piercy, Scott Stallings, Mark Wilson, Gary Woodland and many, many more.
At this year's PGA TOUR Qualifying School, 52 percent of those earning fully-exempt status on the PGA TOUR and 67 percent of those earning fully-exempt status on the Nationwide Tour were past NGA Professionals. Another 16 NGA Professionals advanced to the PGA TOUR for 2012 by finishing inside the Top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list, including 2011 NGA members Ted Potter Jr, Russell Knox and Billy Hurley III.
The NGA Pro Golf Tour, established in 1988, predates the Nationwide Tour as the longest running developmental tour in golf.
For more information on the NGA or the NGA Pro Golf Tour, please visit the website at www.NGATOUR.com or contact the Tour Office at (800) 992-8748.