Date: February 19, 2008

Moonah Classic draw and preview

Pre-Qualifying for the Moonah Classic starting on Thursday was held today at The Sandhurst Club Champions Course in Victoria. Victorians Andrew McKenzie, Alistair Presnell and Chris Gaunt and New Zealander Todd Nicholson were the four players to Qualify. The AU$850,000 Nationwide Tour co-sanctioned event is the fourth tournament on the 2008 Nationwide Calendar and will feature the three winners on the Tour this year, American Scott Dunlap, Australian Jarrod Lyle and most recent winner American Darron Stiles. Stiles won the HSBC NZ PGA Championship on the weekend, closing with a pressure packed six foot putt to avoid a play-off with New Zealander David Smail. He has traveled to Melbourne for the first time to play in the Moonah Classic and is well aware of the challenge the Peter Thomson designed course can dish out. “I&aposve heard that if the wind blows it can be really difficult, said Stiles who collected his fifth Nationwide Tour title in Christchurch. “I&aposve seen the scorecards in the hall from the Aussie Open that was here. I saw the 63 and then the 77 in the final round by the same guy who won. Having just come off the course, I can see both of those numbers. I think the course is very fair overall. “It is very similar to one we used to play in the States, our Tour Championship in Prattville on the Robert Trent Jones Trail. As far as the overall look and layout of the course, it is very similar to that, other than the greens. The greens here are a lot more fair than the ones we play on the Trail course.” Of the winning trio, Stiles will tee off first from the tenth tee alongside Australians Steven Bowditch and James Nitties. Bowditch played in the last Australian Open at Moonah Links in 2005, finishing T17. Nitties finished T17. Dunlap, winner of the season opening Panama Open will tee off at 12:15 from the first tee alongside two of Australia&aposs most successful golfers, Peter Senior and Peter O&aposMalley. Between them the pair have almost 30 title worldwide, with Senior&aposs most recent victory the 2003 Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship (Australasian Tour) and O&aposMalley the 2005 ING NZ PGA Champs ( Nationwide Tour). Lyle is the last of the trio to take to the course, teeing off from the 1st at 12:35pm. Lyle broke through for his first professional victory, smashing the field at the Nationwide Tours Mexico Open three weeks ago to win by five shots. The win followed a T6 finish a week before at the season opening Panama Movistar Championship and elevated Lyle to the number one spot on the Nationwide Tour with $US133,350. Lyle is grouped with fellow aussie Queenslander Adam Crawford who finished fourth in Christchurch, three shots behind Stiles, and American Rick Price. Lyle has some scores to settle with Moonah Links, having played both Australian Opens and missing the cut on both occasions. It is one of those courses where, if you don&apost hit it good, you get punished and if you hit it good, you can get punished as well,” said the 26 year old from Shepparton. “You&aposve got to hit it from point to point. You&aposve got to hit it to one side of the fairway to get it to one side of the green. If it blows for the rest of the week like it did today, it is going to be one hell of a golf course.” The AUD$850,000 event begins on Thursday with the final round on Sunday. TOURNAMENT: Moonah Classic, Moonah Links, Fingal Victoria DATE: February 21-24, 2008 FIELD SIZE: 156 players (78 USPGA Nationwide Tour, 73 PGA Tour of Australasia, 5 invitations) CUT: Top 60 plus ties. PURSE: AUD$850,000 (winner&aposs share: AUD$153,000) DEFENDING CHAMPION: Inaugural event PRE-QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT: Tuesday February 19, Sandhurst Club (Champions Course) TELEVISION: Network Ten. Thurs and Fri: Ten-HD / Sat and Sun: Ten and Ten-HD. TICKETS: Free entry to the tournament, parking is $5 Click here to view a draw for Round 1 Click here to view pre-qualifying results