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Rex Hospital Open cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreak

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RALEIGH — TPC Wakefield Plantation’s biggest event of the year, the REX Hospital Open, is canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The golf tournament has raised more than $9 million for patients in need over the past 33 years as the largest annual fundraiser for the REX Healthcare Foundation.

This is the second time the tournament has been canceled. In 1996, Hurricane Fran caused the tournament to be nixed.

“The safety of our coworkers, volunteers, spectators, sponsors and community is paramount,” said Ernie Bovio, president of UNC REX. “The REX Healthcare Foundation will miss proceeds from this year’s event, but this is the right decision to make.”

The REX Hospital Open is also an important stop on the PGA Tour’s Korn Ferry Tour. This year, 156 professional golfers were scheduled to compete at TPC Wakefield Plantation, May 28-31.

The REX Hospital Open requires more than 400 volunteers every year to be successful, including many staff from UNC REX.

“While it’s disappointing that the 2020 REX Hospital Open is canceled, this was a necessary precaution and we will shift our planning toward putting on a world-class tournament for Raleigh to enjoy in 2021,” said Brad King, tournament chairman.

Sebastian Cappelen won the 2019 Rex Hospital Open by shooting a Wakefield TPC course record 21 under par to win by three shots.

The 29-year-old from Denmark defeated Raleigh native Grayson Murray and Zack Sucher.

Cappelen shot a 7-under 64 in the final round and birdied three of his last four holes for the tournament victory.

Brian Krusoe has been the REX Hospital Open tournament director since 2015. He said the decision to cancel the tournament was to shift the hospital’s focus on battling COVID-19.

“We work closely with the PGA Tour to evaluate the situation,” Krusoe said. “They canceled multiple events due to the pandemic. Our focus as a healthcare organization is to fight the pandemic. We knew were not going to be in a position to play the tournament.”

Last month, the REX Healthcare Foundation began collecting supplies and donations to help UNC REX workers and patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

No postponement date has been announced. Krusoe said the tournament should resume next year barring any setback.

“When things are appropriate, we’ll start planning for 2021,” Krusoe said. “Right now, golf is not where our focus is supposed to be, but to help the community.”

Many golf courses remain open for casual play amid the pandemic, including TPC Wakefield Plantation.