RALEIGH, N.C. – Two more players were added to the field for this week’s 2014 Rex Hospital Open as Grant Houser and Alex Smalley earned exemptions into the Web.com Tour event by winning the college and elite junior divisions in the Junior Invitational played at TPC at Wakefield Plantation on Sunday.
Smalley, a junior at Wake Forest High School carded the overall low score of the day (69), finishing at two under-par, while Houser, a freshman at Campbell, carded an even 71 on the 7,251-yard layout.
In earning his spot, Houser had to beat out finalist Stephen Lavenets, a sophomore on the East Carolina golf team, who also finished at even par.
After Lavenets missed a six-footer, Houser drained his putt on the first playoff hole to earn the college division title.
“I hit it good all day,” Houser said.
“I didn’t putt badly, but I didn’t make as many putts as I would have liked. Other than that, I got up and down from a couple of spots that I didn’t expect to, so that was a bonus.”
Smalley had only played the layout at TPC a few times during high school matches, but was able to outplay the collegiate division competition which included two-time event winner Grayson Murray, who finished with 73 on the day.
“I got up and down and putted real well,” Smalley said.
With the addition of the college division, this year’s Junior Invitational entered both Houser and Smalley as its representatives into the pro tour event.
“It’s cool that they did that,” Murray said of adding the college division entry.
“It’s pretty unheard of to get two exemptions. It’s good for Web.com and Rex to allow that.”
Both Houser and Smalley were still in shock when realizing that they would be teeing it up alongside PGA Tour pros during the coming days.
“I’m not even sure what I’ve gotten myself into yet,” Houser said.
“It really hasn’t sunk in at all.
“I don’t know, it hasn’t set in,” Smalley said.
“All I know, is that on the first tee, I’m gonna’ be shakin’ like a leaf.”