Local Knowledge: 2010 Children's Miracle Network Classic

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This week's Children's Miracle Network Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort marks the last official event of the 2010 PGA Tour season.

Rickie Fowler
Greenwood/Getty Images
Rickie Fowler is searching for his first PGA Tour win at Disney.
By
T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer
PGA.com

Series: Local Knowledge

Published: Thursday, November 11, 2010 | 1:36 p.m.

No sooner than it began, it seems, the 2010 PGA Tour season officially comes to an end this week at Disney World in the Children's Miracle Network Classic. The playoffs may be long over, but there's a lot on the line in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Some players are fighting to stay in or crack the top-125 on the money-list for playing privileges in 2011. Others, like Rickie Fowler, are trying to earn their first PGA Tour win and also a $1 million bonus for the season-long Kodak Challenge. Before everything unfolds, we caught up with Disney's PGA Head Professional Kevin Weickel, who also happens to be the Tournament Director. Kevin gave us an inside look at the tournament. PGA.com: Thanks for joining us, Kevin. You've been the PGA Head Professional at Disney since 1997. That's pretty remarkable. What's your favorite part about the job? Weickel: The variety each year of the people that come through the Walt Disney World Resort, so many wonderful people visit the resort and it's fun to see them experience Disney. The anticipation of what's next is a very nice part of the job. PGA.com: For a lot of reasons, I'm sure many of your fellow PGA Professionals envy the spot your tournament has on the schedule – last official PGA Tour event of the season. So much can unfold there. What's it like hosting the Tour's final event of the season? Weickel: It is exciting as there are so many stories unfolding: - Players competing for position on the Money List... Top 30 for Masters invite... Top 70 for invitationals... Top 125 for job security!... and even the 126-150 position will provide a status that more than likely allow 10-plus starts in 2011 plus an exemption into Finals of Q School. - The Kodak Challenge this year is a very exciting race. Troy Merritt is leading with Rickie Fowler and Aaron Baddeley right on his heels. The 17th of Magnolia is the final hole and is quite the challenge. - Many players bring their families to "celebrate" a great year and finally have a chance to enjoy some 'family time' while at Walt Disney World Resort. - Some players are working on their games and trying to position themselves for a good start to 2011... Stephen Ames in 2007 came to play and "work on a few things with his swing," and ended up winning! PGA.com: Traditionally, the Disney tournament is a birdie fest for the PGA Tour players. Is there any reason why that wouldn't be the case this time around? Weickel: The course conditions are perfect right now with the Tour players and officials stating the greens are as perfect as you can make them. Currently, they're rolling 12 with 13 possible for Sunday. Each green is very large with subtle undulations allowing for good scoring opportunities to those who are stroking the ball well. Wind is scheduled to pick up a bit Friday, it is really the great neutralizer on the Magnolia which naturally plays long -- with no wind it plays 7,500 yards, so with wind it shows its teeth. PGA.com: You have a strong field this week, including three members of the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup team. One of those three, who I'm sure will be a fan-favorite, is young Rickie Fowler. Is it just a matter of time before he picks up his first win? Could it be this week? Weickel: We have been the site of many firsts. Hal Sutton, Brad Bryant, Lucas Glover and Ryan Palmer are just a few names who have their first win here. Payne Stewart and Tiger Woods each won their second here, so many of the names in the field may be the next stars of the future. PGA.com: Final question, Kevin. Out of all your years as a part of the tournament, can you pinpoint your single most memorable moment for us? Weickel: The event has been filled with so many great moments through the years. In fact, 21 of the last 28 have been decided by one shot or less. Davis Love's III win in 2008 was his 20th career win and earned him a lifetime exemption on Tour. We were a part of Vijay's run of victories that catapulted him to the No. 1 ranking the world. In 1999, we all watched Payne Stewart play what turned out to be his final two rounds on the PGA Tour. Ryan Palmer's closing 62 in the final round to come from way back in the field and win by three was an exciting finish. Lucas Glover holing a bunker shot on the 72nd hole while a hurricane was bearing down on the Florida coast and scheduled to hit that evening... I could go on and on. Picking just one is tough!