Raleigh, N.C. -- South African and University of Arkansas product Brenden Pappas returns to the TPC Wakefield Plantation this week to defend The Rex Hospital Open title he captured last year with a chance to make Nationwide Tour history. No player in the 18-year history of the Nationwide Tour has successfully defended a title.
Pappas grabbed the victory in 2006 from Charlie Wi when he birdied the final two holes, with the clincher a 25-foot putt on the 72nd hole. The victory was worth $81,000 and was his first on the Nationwide Tour since his initial season in 2002. Disappointingly though, he came up $11,668 and two spots shy of earning his PGA TOUR card at the end of the season.
Pappas is joined in the field by his older brother, Deane, who is a two-time Nationwide Tour winner, and 27 different PGA TOUR winners who have a combined 68 TOUR wins, including major champions Larry Mize (Masters), Mark Brooks (PGA Championship), and Steve Jones (U.S. Open).
Australian Nick Flanagan resumes his quest for his third win of the year and the automatic PGA TOUR promotion that comes with it.
The par 71, 7,257-yard TPC Wakefield Plantation was designed by three-time U.S. Open champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member Hale Irwin. The TPC Wakefield Plantation is home to only three par 5s leaving little room for error. However, of those players who made the cut last year when it was a par 72, only eight were over par. The course played to an average of 70.852, the 21st toughest on Tour.
Pappas will challenge five other past Rex Hospital Open champions, Skip Kendall (1994), Vance Veazey (1999), Zoran Zorkic (2002), David Morland IV (2003) and Chris Anderson (2004). Also playing are fourteen golfers with ties to the colleges and universities in North Carolina, including UNC standout Dustin Bray, who broke Davis Love III's school record for wins with seven, and North Carolina State graduate Marc Turnesa, who currently occupies the 24th spot on the money list.
The Rex Hospital Open is the 13th of the 32 official events on the Nationwide Tour. As the season's midway point approaches, the competition for "The 25" promotion to the PGA TOUR intensifies.
The Rex Hospital Open had planned a Pro-Junior Invitational for Sunday featuring the top 20 female and top 60 male North Carolina high school golfers, with the medalist earning a spot in the tournament. Tropical storm "Barry" forced cancellation of play after 12 holes, leaving the tournament's Pro-Junior Committee to select a participant. The committee chose Henry Zaytoun, a two-time North Carolina state high school champion and winner of the 2005 Donald Ross Junior Championship. Zaytoun, who plans to attend the University of North Carolina on a golf scholarship, also qualified for last year's U.S. Amateur and once carded a 61 at North Ridge CC in Raleigh.