After a one-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, the Rex Hospital Open will be played again this year.
Tournament organizers said Wednesday that attendance would be limited to 1,000 fans a day at the Korn Ferry Tour event at The Country Club at Wakefield Plantation. Tickets to the tournament, scheduled June 3-6, will be free and all COVID-19 protocols will be followed, including mandatory wearing of masks and proper social distancing.
The 2020 Rex Hospital Open was canceled by the PGA Tour a year ago because of the rapid spread and threat of COVID-19. A lot of planning was dashed, but there was always hope of returning in 2021.
“It’s obviously been a long road since we talked about tournament golf here in Raleigh,” tournament director Brian Krusoe said Wednesday on a Zoom media call. “We were very disappointed to cancel the event last year, but the hospital was solely focused on fighting the pandemic, and it was the only decision that we could make.
“Things are improving and the PGA Tour has done a great job with getting a return to golf in a safe way that everyone here in our community can enjoy.”
The Rex Hospital Open will offer a $650,000 purse and will pay $117,000 to the winner. Sebastian Cappelen of Denmark won the 2019 Rex title, holding off a final-round surge by Raleigh’s Grayson Murray, who shot a 61.
One of the sponsor’s exemptions this year will go to the top-ranked player in the Advocates Professional Golf Association. It’s part of the PGA Tour’s commitment to growing and diversifying the game, and the tour and APGA have jointly set up a program to help top Black golfers transition from the collegiate game into the pro ranks, including entry into events.
“Creating access to opportunity is a key element for diversity, equity and inclusion to work,” Victor Reiss, the UNC REX vice president of consumerism and insights, said on the media call. “These college players have big dream of making it to the highest level of professional golf and now they have a pathway to make that happen.”
Another sponsor’s exemption has been given to Pontus Nyholm, a Campbell University golfer, for winning the Stitch Intercollegiate last month with a final-round 62 at Cary’s MacGregor Downs. Nyholm, from Sweden, said he has played in a European Tour event as an amateur and plans on making the Rex his first event as a pro golfer.
“I’ve been playing good the whole spring and my expectations are high,” Nyholm said on the media call. “But I’m mostly going to go out and have fun and see how it goes.”
The proceeds from the 2021 Rex Hospital Open will benefit the Patient Assistance Fund and Cancer Center Angel Fund at UNC REX. Tournament organizers are seeking volunteers to work the tournament.
2021 Rex Hospital Open
What: Korn Ferry Tour tournament.
Where: The Country Club of Wakefield Plantation.
When: June 3-6.