A win-win for Nationwide Tour, junior golfers

I was recently introduced to a great idea for a community to stir up some local interest for a Nationwide Tour event or even an LPGA event.

If you are junior golfer and live in North Carolina, you may have a chance to play in the Nationwide Tour’s Rex Hospital Open, May 20-23 in Raleigh, N.C.

For the third consecutive year, the winner of the The Rex Hospital Junior Invitational (May 15-16) will get an exemption into the event. But this year, there will be some changes.

Previously run by the Rex Healthcare Foundation, the Junior Invitational is now being operated by the Tarheel Junior Golf Tour. It has also been expanded from 18 to 36 holes – Round 1 on the Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State University and the final round at TPC Wakefield Plantation, site of the Nationwide event.

For now the field is open only to North Carolina juniors that are ranked inside the top 100 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings, the National Junior Golf Scoreboard rankings and the Carolina Golf Association rankings. The Tarheel Junior Golf Tour hopes to expand the field, currently close to 80 players, in coming years.

There is a girls division for this event, but in order to play for the Nationwide exemption players must play from the same tees as the boys.

Previous winners of the event are Andy Knox (2009) and Henry Zaytoun (2008).

Don’t you think this might be a good idea for LPGA stops in Springfield, Ill., or North Plains, Ore.?

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