Sports

One Raleigh golfer's good fortune opens door for another

Carl Pettersson chips the ball towards the 17th hole during the first round at the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC on Wednesday May 13, 2015.
Carl Pettersson chips the ball towards the 17th hole during the first round at the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC on Wednesday May 13, 2015. jkomer@charlotteobserver.com

On a balmy Wednesday morning, Carl Pettersson wandered a few hundred yards from home to put himself in the slightly awkward position of promoting a golf tournament he knew he wasn't going to play.

The original plan was for Pettersson to drop down to the Web.com Tour and play the Rex Hospital Open at TPC Wakefield Plantation as one of a dozen or so tournaments in what is otherwise a year off for Pettersson, who lost his full-time PGA Tour card after last season and decided to take a break. A Wakefield resident since 2001, Pettersson was looking forward to playing a tournament on his home course, right up until the Memorial, a tournament Pettersson won in 2006 and played the same week as the Rex, May 31-June 3, called to offer an exemption.

When Jack Nicklaus asks, you don't say no. So, rain check on the Rex?

“Unfortunately, I won't be playing this year,” Pettersson said. “I was really looking forward to playing in the Rex and on my home golf course, which would have been great. Fortunately for me, I'll be at Muirfield.”

Pettersson, who moved here from Sweden as a teen and played college golf at N.C. State before embarking on a 17-year, five-win PGA Tour career, has taken the opportunity presented by losing his tour card to relax and spend some time at home in Raleigh with his 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son, even if they might be missing the summer travel of the tour life more than he is.

While he has missed the cut in all five tournaments so far this year, Pettersson said he's feeling better about his game and is enjoying the time off. It's possible Pettersson could end up playing the Rex next year, when his fallback plan if he doesn't regain his card while playing this limited schedule is to activate his one-year Web.com exemption and play that tour full-time.

“I wanted to clear my head,” Pettersson said. “My game hasn't been that good. I wanted to fix my game, be with the family a little bit. When you've been doing something for a long time, I just needed a year.”

The Rex exemption Pettersson declined ended up going to Raleigh's Carter Jenkins, who played at North Carolina and used his exemption last year and a 52nd-place finish as a springboard to playing six more Web.com events last fall. This will be his fourth appearance in the Rex, having played his way into it twice while at Leesville Road High School. Cary's Brendon Todd also received a sponsors' exemption.

“When I got the email a few days ago, I couldn't have been happier,” Jenkins said. “Then I found out this morning that Carl got into the Memorial and that's the reason I got the spot, so thank you so much, Carl.”

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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