At 50, former Garner High and N.C. State golfer Gus Ulrich is old enough to be Ben Kohles father, but both will chase a timeless dream Thursday in Greensboro.
Ulrich, a teaching expert and staff assistant at Pinewild Country Club in Pinehurst, and Kohles, 22, will join several other Triangle-area pros in the chase for the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club.
Its the tournament and the course where Raleigh native Webb Simpson scored his first PGA Tour win a year ago. Simpson shot a final round 2-under-par 68 to pull away from a group of contenders that included former Wolfpack star and Raleigh resident Carl Pettersson.
Simpson, winner of Junes U.S. Open, will defend and Pettersson, who had an impressive performance in last weeks PGA Championship, will be among the favorites in a field loaded with local angles.
The two will join Ryder Cup captain and former UNC star Davis Love III in a 7:40 a.m. threesome off the 10th tee. On Friday, the group will go off No. 1 at 12:40 p.m. as a featured threesome for the Golf Channels live coverage from 3 to 6 p.m.
For Kohles, who played high school golf at Cary Green Hope, Thursdays first round will be his debut on the PGA Tour. But even though hes played virtually nonstop since turning pro in June, there might not be a hotter golf anywhere than the former University of Virginia standout.
On the PGAs Web.com tour, Kohles became the first player to win his opening two tournaments. In 12 pro rounds, he has been over 69 only three times, and two of those were 70s. He landed a sponsors exemption to the Wyndham.
Its a dream come true and I definitely realize how fortunate I am, Kohles said Wednesday. Its been a whirlwind. I havent had much time to think about it, which I think is a good thing.
Ulrich qualified for the $5.2 million event by winning the PGA Carolinas Sectional title.
Although he is recognized as a premier teacher and at times has had the look of a tour winner, Ulrich learned to play on his own at Garner Country Club and never had a formal lesson when he joined Rickard Sykes Wolfpack program as a walk-on.
Another hopeful with a large Raleigh area following will be Chesson Hadley, 25, who landed a sponsors invitation. At North Raleigh Christian Academy, Hadley played junior golf at Raleigh Country Club and North Ridge Country Club before going to Georgia Tech and earning honorable mention All-America honors.
On the eGolf Tour, Hadley is second in earnings with almost $84,000 in 17 events and won in late July at the River Landing Course in Wallace.
Much the same as Kohles, Hadley is on a tear. In two tournaments since the win, he has had rounds of 67 three times, one 66 and a 69 and two 70s.
Other locals to watch:
Brendon Todd: Another ex-Green Hope standout, the 27-year-old native Pennsylvanian won the 2011 qualifying school title and has made 11 cuts for roughly $475,00.
Entering the Wyndham, hes No. 132 on the earnings list.
David Mathis: At 38, the Wake Forest resident, Winston-Salem native and former Campbell standout has won $576,000 in 24 events and finished in a tie for 10th in the New Orleans Zurich Classic.
A year ago in Greensboro, Mathis had opening rounds of 70 and 69 but still missed the 36-hole cut of 137.
Neal Lancaster: The Smithfield native and resident will turn 50 in September and likely will get an invitation to player in the Oct. 5-7 SAS Championship Champions Tour event at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary.
On the big tour this season, Lancaster has entered only seven events, made two cuts and has picked up just over $22,000.
In 1994, Lancaster won the Byron Nelson Classic in a remarkable playoff that included five other players. In 1985, he won the Carolinas Open. The Carolinas winner in 2001 was Ulrich, who could also be a contender for a SAS berth.