RICHMOND, Ky. – More than two dozen professional golfers will battle for a $20,000 purse when action begins Tuesday at Boone’s Trace National Golf Club in Richmond, Ky. The 54-hole, three-day tournament that will be played without spectators is dubbed the “Unbridled Tour presented by Republic Bank” and will see players competing for a $10,000 first-place prize. The event marks the return of sports for Kentucky following the state’s shutdown due to COVID-19 in mid-March.
“A mini-tour event offers the perfect opportunity for both professional and amateur golfers to play in a competitive environment while staying safe and healthy as part of the current public health guidelines,” said Cam Rutherford, Head Professional of Boone’s Trace National Golf Club. “We are excited to offer this opportunity to pros and top amateurs that live in our region and have not had the chance to play competitively over the past two months.”
The tournament has drawn professional golfers from as far away as Arizona and Florida, including:
- Erik Barnes – a Michigan native, Barnes played collegiately at Austin Peay, where he was the league’s freshman of the year in 2007 and player of the year in 2009. The ninth-year pro has played in three of the six Korn Ferry Tour events this season and currently ranks 127th on the points list.
- Kent Bulle – the Glasgow, Ky., native who qualified for the 2017 British Open after winning the Argentina Open, and was in the top-four after the cut; Jordan Spieth ended up with the wire-to-wire victory in the major. Bulle, a 10-year pro who played at Middle Tennessee, is coming off shoulder surgery in 2019. He currently has status on the Korn Ferry Tour.
- Vince India – a native of Deerfield, Ill., India has played in all six Korn Ferry Tour events this season, making three cuts. The Iowa grad was the 2011 Big Ten Player of the Year and recorded his first top-10 finish on the Korn Ferry Tour last summer at the Portland Open, finishing 5th after being the 36-hole leader.
- Chip McDaniel – a three-time collegiate winner at the University of Kentucky, the Manchester native also won the 2013 and 2017 Kentucky State Amateur and the Junior PGA Championship in 2013. Along with teammate Cooper Musselman, who’s also in the field, the duo led the Wildcats to an NCAA regional title in 2018. McDaniel currently has status on the Korn Ferry Tour.
As many as a dozen amateurs have entered the field as well, including UK golfers Allen Hamilton and Zach Norris, Cincinnati golfers Clay Amlung and Mason Lenhart, and Alabama freshman Canon Claycomb from Bowling Green.
Mini-tour events were once the primary route to earning a PGA TOUR card. However, as developmental tours, such as the MacKenzie Tour in Canada and the Latinoamérica Tour, both of which are managed by the PGA TOUR, became more popular as participants could earn status on the Korn Ferry Tour, mini-tours lost popularity. But with the global pandemic, mini-tours in Florida and Texas have blossomed over the past 30 days, and are serving as a key stepping stone to players needing competition prior to the planned restart of professional golf next month.
Boone’s Trace National Golf Club, located just south of Lexington, features a 6,900-yard course known locally as “The Bull” which plays to a par 72. The club has utilized the spring season to complete on-course improvements. The course, which has bentgrass tees, fairways, and greens, and bluegrass/fescue rough, is in perfect condition to host the Unbridled Tour according to the club.
“Our course challenges golfers to make shots,” added Rutherford. “It will prove to be a great test for a number of our participants who have been sidelined for the past two months.”
Boone’s Trace National Golf Club will manage the tournament in partnership with bdG Sports, the Lexington-based firm that annually manages the Korn Ferry Tour’s Great Exuma Classic and Great Abaco Classic events in the Bahamas.
The Unbridled Tour event will be hosted in compliance with all local and state public heath guidelines to include:
- Social distancing will be required by players and club/tournament staff
- Only one person will be permitted in a golf cart if utilized
- The course will not be open to fans
- Clubhouse access will be restricted
Full event information and daily scores can be found at www.UnbridledTour.com. Registration is open until 6 p.m., May 24.