ALUMNI UPDATE: 3 PLAYERS TOP 10 AT JOHN DEERE; 11 TO COMPETE AT TURNBERRY IN THE 138TH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

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By Jon Levy - Staff Writer

July 14, 2009

Similar to many weeks on the PGA & Nationwide Tours — especially this season on both tours — this past weekend at the John Deere Classic and Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic once again saw a multitude of former Gateway Tour players hanging around up near the top of their respective leaderboards.

As it played out, seven former Gateway Tour players scored Top 25’s in the Quad Cities and another seven earned Top 25’s in Wayne Gretzky’s event on the Nationwide circuit.

Starting with the annual pre-British Open warm-up at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, IL, Brandt Snedeker led the list of Gateway Alum in the field by notching his best finish of the year — a tie for 2nd — worth $321,066.67.

Along with a T5 finish last week at the AT&T National that has helped vault him to 85th in the FedEx Cup standings, the past two weeks account for his best two finishes since the heartbreaking T3 performance at the 2008 Masters. Perhaps now then, it’s safe to say the Tennessee native has fully — and finally — rounded back into the same form that has garnered him one TOUR win and thirteen total Top 10’s since 2007.

Moving down the list, Matt Jones and Kevin Streelman also notched a pair of Top 10’s with T5 and 8th place finishes, respectively, to see each move up to 133rd and 76th in the yearlong FedEx Cup race.

With the tie for 5th, Jones ties his best finish of the year to reach $436,481 in earnings, while Streelman, now with $789,644 in the bank this year, notches his second Top 10 of 2009.

Finally, four other former Gateway Tour players — Spencer Levin (15th), Charley Hoffman (15th), Chris Stroud (15th), and Robert Garrigus (23rd) — each found their way into the Top 25 at the Deere to continue the great year Gateway Alum are wracking up on the PGA TOUR.

In the Nationwide Tour’s 2nd Annual trip up to “Cottage Country” in the Thunder Bay area of Ontario, Canada at The Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic Presented by Samsung, the good play of former Gateway Tour players continued with Chris Anderson (T4), Garth Mulroy (T4), & Josh Broadaway (T9) each finding their way into the Top 10, and Dustin White (T17), John Kimbell (T20), Bubba Dickerson (T20), and Byron Smith (T25) each notching Top 25 finishes.

Former Gateway Tour players have made quite an impact on The PGA TOUR’s younger brother in the past couple of years and this season is certainly no exception with Mulroy, Dickerson, Kevin Johnson, and Roger Tambellini already accounting for Nationwide Tour victories just halfway through the season.

The 138th Open Championship

While the finishes of Gateway Alumni in the weekly TOUR stops this year have perhaps helped make The Gateway Tour’s mission of providing an environment where players can build the skills necessary to compete on the PGA TOUR a reality, The Gateway Tour’s former players — after just eight years of the Tour’s existence — have already made quite an impact on professional golf’s major championships as well.

As the 138th Open Championship is on the horizon in Scotland this week, eleven former Gateway Tour players will tee it up with hopes to continue that trend. The following players will compete at Turnberry this week:

Fredrik Andersson
Mark Brown
Ken Duke
Charley Hoffman
J.B. Holmes
Martin Laird
Steve Marino
Sean O’Hair
Jeff Overton
Brandt Snedeker
Bubba Watson

Best of luck over there, guys!

Click here to see the 1st and 2nd round pairings at Turnberry, from pga.com…

Click here and here to view the final leaderboards from the John Deere Classic and Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic, from pgatour.com, respectively…