Zac Potter couldn’t get on his home golf course to practice Wednesday, but he was fine with that.
Potter has a 9 a.m. tee time today in the first round of the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open at Crestview Country Club.
The 25-year-old Potter, a former Cheney High and Wichita State golfer, will make his Nationwide Tour debut after shooting a 2-under-par 70 to advance through Monday qualifying at Newton’s Sand Creek Station. He will play with England’s David Skinns and former Oklahoma State golfer Kevin Tway in the tournament’s first two rounds.
“It’s just really cool to have an opportunity to play at Crestview, where I’m a member,” said Potter, a two-time All-Missouri Valley Conference player at WSU. “Playing in my hometown and sleeping in my own bed, it’s just great.”
Nationwide Tour regulars spent the day on Crestview’s North course Wednesday for the Hawker Beechcraft Pro-Am. Potter, the son of Newman University basketball coach Mark Potter, played nine holes Tuesday, then worked on his game in the practice area during the pro-am.
Potter turned professional last June, and came up short in his bid to qualify for the 2011 Wichita Open. He has since played on various mini-tours, winning the Kingwood Lakes Classic – an Adams Golf Pro Tour Series event – on Valentine’s Day near Houston.
“It was kind of nice to see a little validation for turning pro and doing what I’m doing,” said Potter, who edged Pat Grady in a playoff to claim the $2,550 winner’s check.
Potter, who married Shayla Holder on May 12, qualified for the National Pro Golf Tour and has played six events this year. He has also played in one NGA Tour (formerly Hooters Tour) event.
Perhaps no golfer in the field will be more acquainted with Crestview. In addition to practicing there every two or three weeks in college, Potter said he has played the tournament course “over 125 times” in the last year.
“My dad was pretty jacked up when I got in,” Potter said. “I assume there will be quite a few people out there.
“We’ll see how it goes. I’m not exactly sure what my nerves will be on the first tee, but I’m excited to get out there.”
Changing gears – One of the amateur participants in Wednesday’s pro-am was NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and Emporia native Clint Bowyer.
Bowyer, who is ninth in this season’s Sprint Cup driver standings, was a guest of pro-am sponsor Hawker Beechcraft. He flies in a Premier IA.
“It’s always fun to be able to come to these charity events,” said Bowyer, whose golf cart was decorated with a No. 15 sticker and a Hawker Beechcraft logo. “The Wichita Open raises a lot of money. Their goal for this year is $250,000. To be able to come here and have the kind of fun that were going to have today, and be able to put money toward a great cause is a great feeling.”
Bowyer, whose pro partner was cross-handed swinging Josh Broadaway, a tour veteran, said he hadn’t played golf since a corporate outing last year. His goal was to take some inspiration from Jim Furyk, who, like Bowyer, has a sponsorship agreement with 5-Hour Energy.
“I was watching Furyk at the U.S. Open last weekend,” Bowyer said. “I’m going to try to keep it out of the trees, because it cost him.”
Saying ‘I do’ – Former Kansas State golfer Robert Streb is having a solid rookie season on the Nationwide with a pair of top-five finishes. He ranks 20th in season earnings with $90,674.
But Streb, an Edmond, Okla., resident, is one of two in the top 25 who will bypass the Wichita Open. He is getting married Saturday.
During the tour’s off week last week, Streb competed in the Colbert Charity Classic, an Adams Golf event in Manhattan. He finished second with a four-day total of 13-under 275 at Colbert Hills.
Etc. – Two-time champion Brad Elder (1999 and 2007) and Kevin Johnson (2006) are the only two former Wichita Open winners in this week’s field. … The Wichita Open marks the beginning of a run of six tournaments over seven weeks in the Midwest. Next up is the United Leasing Championship, a new tour event in Evansville, Ind.