RALEIGH, N.C. -- Nationwide Tour money leader David Mathis has a home field advantage this week as the PGA TOUR stars of tomorrow compete at his home course in The Rex Hospital Open at TPC Wakefield Plantation. The 1997 Campbell University business graduate resides in Morrisville, which is less than 30 minutes from the par-71 track that was designed by three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin.
Mathis, who has played on the Nationwide Tour full time since 2006, is currently enjoying the ride of a lifetime. A native of Winston Salem, the 34-year-old has catapulted from 100th on the money list to the top spot in the past three months. In his last seven starts, he has not finished outside the top-25, with the highlights being a win at the BMW Charity Pro-Am and a runner-up finish the very next week at the Melwood Prince George's County Open.
With $235,763 in earnings, Mathis is a lock to earn his PGA TOUR card for 2009. Another sure thing is the stiff competition he will face this week as nine other 2008 tournament winners are in The Rex Hospital field including last week's Bank of America Open champion Kris Blanks, Jeff Klauk (Melwood Prince George's County Open), Bryan DeCorso (South Georgia Classic), Aron Price (Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship), Gavin Coles (Chitimacha Louisiana Open), Ewan Porter (Moonah Classic), Darron Stiles (HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship), Jarrod Lyle (Mexico Open) and Scott Dunlap (Panama Movistar Championship). The Nationwide Tour has yet to have a repeat winner as it enters its 14th event of a 30-tournament schedule.
In recent weeks, there has been a significant transformation at the top of the money list. International players, with the Australians leading the charge, dominated over the first third of the season as they garnered six of the first nine titles. At one point in early May, internationals occupied the first five positions. In the last four weeks, a contingent of Americans has come to the forefront with Mathis now No. 1 followed by Jeff Klauk (No.2), Darron Stiles (No. 3) and Kris Blanks (No. 5). Greg Chalmers at No. 4 is the only Australian in the top five, though three of his countrymen, Jarrod Lyle, Ewan Porter and Aron Price, join him in the top 10 along with Greg Owen of England and Bryan DeCorso of Canada.
The Rex Hospital Open invited the top-18 high school girls and top-54 boys from North Carolina to participate in the event's Pro-Junior Invitational on Sunday, with the low junior playing from the back tees earning a sponsor's exemption. Jordan Walor of Wake Forest Rolesville fired a two-under par 69 to win the event by one stroke. Walor will compete alongside the professionals beginning this Thursday.
Kyle Thompson captured the first of two Nationwide Tour titles at this event last June, which ultimately earned him a spot on the PGA TOUR this year.
The next event on the Nationwide Tour schedule is the Knoxville Open on June 19-22.