ORLANDO, Fla. -Sept. 6, 2012 – A record field of 1,136 amateur golfers are competing in the 2012 Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships, which is being played through Sept. 13 at four Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., area courses and headlined by famed TPC Sawgrass. Tournament contestants range in age from 16 to 79 and are representing 39 U.S. States, Puerto Rico and Canada.
The Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships kicked off Tuesday with the Senior National Championship (age 50+), featuring a field of 500 amateur golfers from throughout North America competing for national championship honors.
The Open National Championship will take place Sept. 10-13 with a record field of 636 players expected.
Florida has the most participants playing in the national championships with 153, followed by Texas (134) and California (117). Twelve participants in six flights – six from the senior division and six from the open division – will be crowned national champions on Sept. 7 and Sept. 13 in official awards ceremonies immediately following the conclusion of their respective tournaments.
Headlining the open division are two former Major League Baseball pitchers – former St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland Athletics pitcher Mark Mulder and four-time World Series championship pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Mulder will compete in the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships for a second consecutive year, while Hernandez will play in his third Am Tour National Championship.
“I’m looking forward to playing in my second Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships against so many good players from around the country and testing myself at TPC Sawgrass, one of the best courses that the pros play on Tour,” said Mulder, who shared the first-round lead at the American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe in July en route to a seventh place finish. “Trying to put together four good rounds is difficult at any time, much less when you are trying to control your nerves against these good players.”
Twenty-three past champions are returning for the national championships, including 10 defending champions:
· Clifford Conover, Roosevelt, Utah (Senior Palmer Flight)
· Jeff Couch, Haymarket, Va. (Senior Hogan Flight)
· Dave Verhulst, Ballwin, Mo. (Senior Sarazen Flight)
· Mark Millard, Simi Valley, Calif. (Senior Jones Flight)
· Paul Erdman, Erie, Colo. (Championship Flight)
· Patrick Polzin, Indian Head Park, Ill. (Palmer Flight)
· Tim Williams, McKinney, Texas (Hogan Flight)
· Bradley Bishop, Alden, N.Y. (Sarazen Flight)
· Suneil Aggarwal, Alpharetta, Ga. (Jones Flight)
· Bilal Jordan, Houston, Texas (Snead Flight)
Also included in the roster of past champions are three golfers from the 2010 National Championships that also was contested at TPC Sawgrass: Don Miller (North Bay, Ontario, Canada, Senior Palmer Flight), Randy Adcock (Vidor, Texas, Senior Jones Flight) and Michael Poole (West Chester, Ohio, Snead Flight).
The PLAYERS Stadium Course and neighboring Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass, along with Ponte Vedra Inn and Club’s Lagoon and Ocean Courses are serving as host courses for the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships. Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa serves as host resort and tournament headquarters for the national championships.
David Feherty, host of his popular, self-titled Golf Channel series, kicked off the festivities Monday night at Sawgrass Marriott as the host, speaking to the 500 participants and their families in attendance for the Senior National Championship opening dinner. Golf Channel’s Stephanie Sparks and Charlie Rymer will host the Open National Championship opening night dinner Sunday, Sept. 9, featuring special guest appearances from four competitors from Golf Channel’s Big Break Atlantis reality competition series – Shannon Fish, Allison Micheletti, Christina Stockton and Selanee Henderson.
GolfChannel.com’s Brandon Tucker and Mike Bailey will post daily blogs and features on-site at the national championships.
As the largest amateur golf tour in North America with more than 6,500 members, the Golf Channel Am Tour is open to the public and provides the most professional tournament experience for players of all ages and abilities, as well as offering unparalleled access to some of the most renowned and challenging golf courses across the country. Broken up into 60 local chapters throughout North America, the Golf Channel Am Tour conducted more than 800 local championships and 25 two-day “Major” Championships throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico in 2012. For more information about the Golf Channel Am Tour and the national championships, visit www.gcamtour.com.
About Golf Channel:
Golf Channel is a multimedia, golf entertainment and services company based in Orlando, Fla. The Golf Channel cable network, co-founded by Arnold Palmer and part of the NBC Sports Group, is available in more than 120 million homes worldwide through cable, satellite and wireless companies. Exclusive partnerships with the world’s top tours allow Golf Channel to feature more live golf coverage than all other networks combined, added to a programming schedule distinguished by golf’s best news, instruction and original programming. Golf Channel’s digital platform of businesses is led by www.GolfChannel.com, a leading golf destination on the Internet, delivering unmatched coverage of the world of golf, as well as services that help the recreational player with how to play, what to play and where to play golf.
-NBC Sports Group-