The only PGA Tour Web.com event held in the Triangle that benefits the local hospital system highlighted its key foundational blocks – a homegrown professional golfer, a well-established businessman, and a professional golf tournament rooted in the local sporting landscape that’s played at a reputable golf facility.
Newly minted tournament director Brian Krusoe introduced Raleigh-born golfer and current PGA Tour member Chesson Hadley and McConnell Golf CEO and tournament co-chair John McConnell to address those in attendance about this year’s event, the 12th year that it will take place at the TPC course, from May 25-31.
Hadley talked about the meaning and purpose that the event and its benefactor, Rex Hospital, held for him.
After all, he was born in the hospital in 1987, and his childhood dream of becoming a professional golfer and winning a Tour event was realized when he won the 2013 event – his first career title – in front of friends and family.
“It was so cool just to be able to come and play in Raleigh in a professional event, let alone win it,” Hadley said.
The win contributed to his progression onto the ‘big Tour’, earning his full PGA Tour card to compete amongst the world’s top golfers for the past year-and-a-half, and included winning the 2014 Rookie of the Year Award.
All that success also helped to financially support his growing family.
Not too long after his win, shortly after competing in a Tour event in Las Vegas, he and his wife Amanda became parents to son Hughes, who was also born at Rex Hospital on Oct. 25.
So, it’s understandable of the golfer’s allegiance to the local Tour event on multiple levels.
Even with a win in Puerto Rico on his resume, it was the Rex Hospital Open that he admitted is his most coveted.
“That’s the trophy that I sleep with, every now and then,” he said with a smile.
“It’s the centerpiece in a little cubby in our house on display. That was probably the best golf tournament to win, here in Raleigh, with everybody, friends and family, and all the fans around – that was very special. Anything I can do for this tournament and for Rex and Raleigh, I’m happy to be a part of it.”
While Hadley sported his trademark smile in making his remarks touting the event’s meaning to him, McConnell also beamed while talking about the event’s continued operation at one of his company’s signature properties.
He expects to see record crowds, surpassing last year’s totals, citing practical reasons for local golf fans and followers to come out and watch the continually growing professional-profile event in the Triangle.
“I think it’s a great golf course for viewing because it’s a big footprint, you’ve got a lot of places you can get close to the players here,” McConnell said.
“It gives you more of a feel for how good these players are and you can see ‘em five feet away. Every year you have the same event at the same venue, it helps the tournament. Every year that Rex has its event, it gets better and with its location, people start putting it on the calendar.”
McConnell added to his point that with tickets being only $10, it’s a ‘can’t-lose’ entertainment value that is rarely found these days that allows spectators to watch and interact with professional athletes.
“All the pros that come in here to play, rave about the Hale Irwin golf course,” McConnell continued.
“They talk about the conditions and how much they really like this tournament and its operation.”
Krusoe added a few more appealing reasons to attend this year’s event – lots to do for the entire family – particularly leading up to the final rounds of play.
The NHL‘s Carolina Hurricanes will host Family Day on Saturday which will feature many amusement activities and interactive games for kids and families, while offering free admission for the entire week to active and retired military, and Wake County Public School system employees.
“It really is an affordable, family-fun experience for people to come out to this beautiful course and take advantage of watching the quality of golf that is on display here.”