PGA tour descends on Peek’n Peak week of July 3

Photo by Cody Crandall Pictured at right is Rick Lamb, the 2016 LECOM Health Challenge winner.

FINDLEY LAKE — Beginning the week of July 3, an abundance of the most skilled and talented professional golfers competing for their PGA Tour cards will once again converge on the Upper Course at Peek’n Peak resort, when the Web.com Tour returns for the second annual LECOM Health Challenge.

The first edition of the tournament, which was held back in July of 2016, seemed to be a huge success.

In fact, the LECOM Health Challenge was awarded “Rookie of the Year” by the PGA Tour affiliate Web.com Tour last December. Squaring off against six other new Web.com Tour events, the LECOM Health Challenge was recognized as the best new event for the 2016 season.

“I get to go to a number of Web.com Tour events, I get to go to a number of PGA Tour events and one of the most common questions I hear is, ‘What makes an event successful”‘ Bo DeHuff, senior manager of tournament business affairs for the PGA Tour, said Wednesday at the LECOM Health Challenge media day. “And I stand by its only as good as its partners. This event is a classic example of tremendous partners. … With the Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corporation, the (Chautauqua County) Visitors Bureau, the (Scott family) here at the Peek and, of course, LECOM, the title sponsor, they would not have won the Rookie of the Year award without significant effort from that entire group. … The Rookie of the Year award was not given away by accident.”

Not only did the LECOM Health Challenge impress on a national level at the annual PGA Tournament awards, but it also impressed on a local level as well.

In fact, tournament spokesperson and CEO of the Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corporation Kevin Sanvidge said Wednesday that the inaugural LECOM Health Challenge set a Web.com Tour record with more than 20,000 spectators attending the event.

A big reason for the large crowds may have been the fierce competition on the course.

On the final day of competition, Rick Lamb, who initially Monday-qualified for the LECOM Health Challenge, set a course record at the Upper Course with a 9-under 63 and he ultimately won the tournament after chipping in for birdie on the second playoff hole to win at 19-under par.

The victory catapulted Lamb into the Top 25 of the Web.com Tour money list and the momentum of his win in Findley Lake eventually carried him to securing his PGA Tour card.

Since he captured his Tour card, Lamb – a native of South Bend, Indiana – has competed in events this season on the PGA Tour such as the Safeway Open, the Sanderson Farms Championship, the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, the RSM Classic, the CareerBuilder Challenge, the Farmers Insurance Open, the Puerto Rico Open and the Valero Texas Open.

“I got off to a pretty good start through three days and then on Sunday just everything went my way,” said Lamb, the guest of honor at media day. “I had two chip-ins on Sunday, which is awesome and then (on the) back nine just got on a little tear.”

“… I’ve got a twin brother who actually plays as well, he’s trying to get status on the Web.com Tour,” Lamb continued. “And I guess the advice is just, I mean, be patient. Because it’s one of those things … where you’re life could change in one week, kind of like mine did. You get on a roll and things get going in the right direction, you gain some momentum and gain some confidence, you really take off.”

According to the Web.com Tour’s official website, beginning in 2013, the Web.com Tour became “The Path to the PGA TOUR” by awarding all 50 cards for the following PGA Tour season. The basic structure remains intact to this day, with the top 25 money winners from the regular season being guaranteed PGA Tour cards for the following PGA Tour season and 25 additional cards being available through the four-tournament Web.com Tour finals.

Thirty-three of the 50 Web.com Tour golfers who earned their PGA Tour cards last season competed in the LECOM Health Challenge. Other notable LECOM Health Challenge alum include Mackenzie Hughes, Cody Gribble and Wesley Bryan, who have already picked up wins on the PGA Tour this season.

Other notable Web.com Tour alums include the likes of current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, two time-Masters champion Bubba Watson and Jason Day.

Proceeds from the 2017 LECOM Health Challenge at Peek’n Peak will benefit the LECOM Student Scholarship fund as well as several other charities, including Mikey’s Way, the Jamestown Community College Scholarship Fund, the Erie Home for Children and Adults, Inc. and the First Tee of Western New York.

Tickets can be purchased online by visiting www.lecomheatlhchallenge.com/tickets.

More than 400 adult and junior volunteers will be needed to operate the tournament. Volunteers assist with scoring, marshaling, admissions and more. Anyone interested can register at www.lecomhealthchallenge.com.

The 2017 LECOM Health Challenge will also be shown all four days on the Golf Channel.

NOTES: A week-long schedule of events will include a Junior Pro-Am on Monday July 3, a Pro-Am on Wednesday July 5 followed by four rounds of competition on July 6-9, with a tournament purse of $600,000. The winner will receive $108,000.