RALEIGH, N.C. – It didn’t matter whether it was 54 holes or 72, journeyman golfer John Riegger will take a win any way he can get it.
Riegger was declared the winner of the Nationwide Tour’s Rex Hospital Classic on Sunday with a 54-hole total of 20-under 193 when the tournament was called at 3 p.m. due to rain. The 46-year-old never started the final round, which was delayed at the start by 3 hours due to heavy morning rains. The tournament was suspended at 1:45 p.m. as more storms rolled into the area, and nearly 2 inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours.
Because the Nationwide Tour does not extend tournaments into Monday and there was no way to finish the round Sunday, Tour Director Jim Duncan cancelled the final round before the last three groups teed off.
“A win is a win. I’m not going to complain,” said Riegger, who took home $99,000 for the victory and moved up 43 spots into 10th on the Tour’s money list with $126,709. “I knew the forecast for today and I was mentally prepared for whatever Mother Nature would throw at us.”
The last tour event that was called after 54 holes was the 2005 Oregon Classic, won by Jeff Gove. The players never went out for the final round and the tournament was called at noon. The last tour event that was rain-shortened after the final round started was the 2002 Nationwide Tour Championship (then the Buy.Com Tour) won by Patrick Moore.
This was Riegger’s second Nationwide Tour win. His first was the 2007 LaSalle Bank Open. He said now he’s focusing on trying to qualify for his first U.S. Open, which will be held on one of his favorite courses, Pebble Beach, June 7 in Memphis.
“I’ve never played the U.S. Open and have played the British Open before,” Riegger said. “I’ve played well in Pebble Beach in the past and it fits my eye.”
Chris Nallen finished five strokes back of Riegger at 15 under. Current Nationwide money leader Kevin Chappell finished tied for 27th at 6 under.
Grayson Murray, the 16-year-old amateur from Raleigh who was the second-youngest player to make the 36-hole cut in a Nationwide Tour event, finished tied for 55th at 2 under.
Riegger’s 20 under was the best first 54 hole total on the Tour this year and the fifth-lowest opening 54-hole total in Nationwide history. It broke the tournament record for best first 54 hole score of 197 by Jimmy Green in 1998 at Raleigh County Club.