RALEIGH, N.C. – On your way to the Web.com Tour’s 2017 Rex Hospital Open which tees off at TPC Wakefield Plantation on Thursday, don’t be surprised if you catch 2013 champion Chesson Hadley pulling out of a nearby Bojangles.
More than likely, the local store will deliver some biscuits to the chain’s sponsored player who’ll need the time on the range to prep and focus on capturing another title in his hometown.
Hadley, along with former Rex Open champions Kyle Thompson (2007, 2011, 2015) and Byron Smith (2014) are included in this year’s 156-player field that will also feature 20 former PGA Tour winners with 30 total Tour victories, 21 of the Web.com Tour’s current Top 25, as well as handfuls of players with local ties contending to earn the honor.
Operating for the 30th year, the annual charity event that has more than 500 volunteers working tirelessly to present the area’s marquee pro golf competition will support cardiovascular disease prevention and education at Rex Hospital’s new and recently opened North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital.
Here are five things to know before you cross the threshold of the entrance gates this week.
Included in this year’s field in addition to Hadley are Raleigh natives Carter Jenkins and Bo Andrews; all born at Rex Hospital, interestingly enough.
Local college alums Brad Fritsch (Campbell), Albin Choi (N.C. State), Wes Roach (Duke), and Adam Long (Duke) will also focus on using local knowledge of the course layout to contend for a title and utilize the advantage of having support from friends and family outside the ropes.
Former champs always contenders
Thompson is the event’s career leader with three wins at TPC WP, and currently sits in fifth spot with $141,374 in earnings while Hadley rests in 57th ($31,432), and Smith at T161 ($1,950).
Regardless of ranking coming in, it was a win at the Rex that helped propel all three to the PGA Tour the next season following their respective winning years.
Don’t count these guys out as they’ll work hard to add another crystal trophy to place on their man-cave mantles.
Taking the long way on Monday
Michael Schoolcraft carded a 7-under 63 to medal at Greensboro National with seven birdies and 11 pars, while T.J. Howe earned medalist honors at Grandover, posting a 9-under 63 that included an eagle and seven birdies on the back nine.
Golf, inflatables, and food
A family-friendly event, this year’s Rex Open will once again feature numerous peripheral activities and food options to make a full day at TPC WP an enjoyable one.
Tuesday’s First Tee of the Triangle Junior Clinic at North Ridge CC kicks it off before Wednesday’s Pro-Am precedes the early opening tee-off on Thursday.
Free admission will be offered throughout the tournament for Active Duty, Military Reserve, National Guard, Military Retirees, and Veterans, First Responders, and to all Wake County Public School System Employees with valid ID.
Food Truck Friday highlights course food offerings for spectators.
A full stomach will fuel the body to follow the field all day as players grind it out to make the cut into the weekend.
Saturday’s ‘Family Day at the Open’ features face painting, music, free stuff and more.
Championship Sunday presents ‘Service Appreciation Day’ and showcases the Ultimate School of BBQ with champion Pitmaster Christopher Prieto.
After expending all that energy following players as well as keeping the kids busy in Vendor Village, be sure to get a seat in the gallery on the 18th green to end the day by watching the crowning of this year’s champ, a probable graduate onto the PGA Tour next season.