The Country Club of Oxford is hosting the inaugural North Mississippi Classic this week from until April 22. It is the first professional athletic event of its kind held in Oxford and will join the Sanderson Farms Championship and the Rapiscan Systems Classic as the third PGA Tour-sanctioned event in the state. The purse for this year’s tournament is $550,000.
The North Mississippi Classic is part of the Web.com Tour, which is affiliated with the PGA Tour. Participants play in smaller tournaments such as the North Mississippi Classic to qualify for the official PGA Tour in the future.
“The Web.com Tour is kind of like the PGA Tour’s triple-A system,” Steve Jent, executive director of the North Mississippi Classic, said. “Players are playing the Web.com events in order to get to the PGA Tour.”
The majority of North Mississippi Classic golfers will be professional players; however, one of Ole Miss’ own, 2017 NCAA individual champion golfer Braden Thornberry, is also set to compete in this week’s tournament. Thornberry claimed the No. 5 spot in the pre-tournament power rankings.
“It’s mostly professionals,” Jent said. “But we did give a sponsor exemption to Braden Thornberry from Ole Miss.”
Mississippi is now one of only five states to host an annual tournament on the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions and Web.com Tour, joining California, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina.
“It’s a good golf state with good golf courses,” Jonah Beck, director of operations for the North Mississippi Classic, said. “From a competing standpoint, we’re not really competing with the [Rapiscan Systems Classic] and we’re not really competing with [Sanderson Farms Championship]. It’s a different market.”
The event’s host organization, Century Club Charities, which also hosts the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, was looking around Mississippi for a place besides Jackson that could raise a lot of charity dollars. The group decided Oxford fit that bill.
“We were looking for ways to raise charity dollars in the state. When we were looking for locations, Oxford was a good location for that,” Beck said. “The Oxford Country Club is a great course, and the community supports sports around here. We met with the Web.com Tour. They came in… and liked the idea of (it) being in a college town, so Oxford made a lot of sense for both sides.”
The Oxford Country Club’s course is known for being difficult and should be an excellent venue for professionals who have come for a real challenge and beautiful scenery.