06/03/2014 1:12PM

Fornatale: $50,000 in play for the first half of the NHC Tour

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The battle for prize money in the first half of the NHC Tour is heating up. The top five players on the tour, ranked by tour points, as of July 31 will each receive $10,000. This is a change from previous years when the money awarded was more top heavy.

The current tour leader is one of the most respected players on the contest scene, Ken Seeman. Seeman, who stood atop the leaderboard as of May 20 with 10,990 points, has been as consistent as any player over the last several years, with an impressive three top 15 NHC finishes. The other players in the top five as of May 20 were Brett Wiener (9.239), Bill Wilbur (9,099), 2009 NHC Tour champ Bryan Wagner (9,010), and William Shurman (8,710).

Tour contestants receive points for their best finishes in NHC-approved contests. Only four scores may be used for the first-half leaderboard, and one of those must come from a live event or only three scores will be considered. For the full year standings, six scores are used, one of which must be from a live event.

This leaves an impressive number of players still eligible to compete for these $10,000 bonuses. Not only is the pack in behind the top five fairly tight, but there are players within striking distance who only have two online scores now – meaning they can improve their positions rather dramatically with another good online finish and/or a positive result in a live event.

For example, say a player has won two online contests and has 4,500 points. They can still add another online score and a live event score to get more than 9,000 points and have a shot at the bonus. Or perhaps a player has a live event win but hasn’t been playing online. With nearly two months to go, it’s conceivable they could still get three more online scores and make a run at the money.

The race should come down to the wire and lead to some interesting scenes, online at NHCQualify and in live events across the country. You can find the full calendar of events here.

For a first half leaderboard with details of who has played where, check here.

Points are awarded on a sliding scale, based largely on tournament participation. Typically you have to finish in the top 10 percent of a given contest to receive tour points. For a fuller explanation of how points are awarded, you can check here.