Rex Hospital Open is growing

Nationwide Tour event here next week

RALEIGH - In 1988, the inaugural Rex Classic raised approximately $125,000 for the hospital that shares its name.

Now entering its 20th year, the tournament -- which has morphed into The Rex Hospital Open, an official stop on the Nationwide Tour -- has earned more than $4.5 million, with more to come next week.

"Never, ever, could I have imagined what it has grown into,'' said Greg Poole, founding chairman of the event, which began as a one-day, LPGA pro-am. "... It makes me really proud of everyone who works [at the event], and the community that supports it."

The Open, which will be played June 7-10 at TPC Wakefield Plantation, has received commitments from 14 golfers with ties to North Carolina colleges and universities, including former UNC golfer Dustin Bray, who broke Davis Love III's school record for wins, and Wake Forest's Gary Hallberg, a four-time first-team All-America.

Nine winners from the 2007 Nationwide Tour schedule, including Australia's Nick Flanagan, who has won twice this year, also have committed to compete for the $450,000 purse. With one more tournament victory, Flanagan would automatically move up to the PGA Tour.

On Sunday, the junior player with the lowest score from the back tees during the Pro-Junior Invitational will be given a sponsor's exemption to compete in the tour event. The top 20 girls and 60 boys from North Carolina high schools will compete.

On Monday, the course will host the Grand Champions Pro-Am, featuring 17 of golf's "living legends" who are past winners on the PGA Tour and helped in the creation of the Champions Tour.

The week is expected to raise approximately $300,000 to support Rex Cancer Outreach Programs and the renovation and expansion of the Special Care Nursery at Rex.

Weekly badges cost $10. For additional ticket information, call (919) 531-4653 or go online at


Staff writer Robbi Pickeral can be reached at 829-8944 or