Former NC State golfer Stephen Franken from Raleigh had a 67th final round and finished sixth in the REX Hospital Open on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Stephen Franken did not win the Rex Hospital Open on Sunday.
Mito Pereira did so with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff. The native Chilean and former Texas Tech golfer surpassed Stephan Jaeger at the Country Club at Wakefield Plantation. With his second win of the season on the Korn Ferry Tour, he will be on the PGA Tour next season.
“I’m very happy with my game and of course very happy with my direction,” said Pereira, 26, who had a 67th finals. “I’ve wanted to play on the PGA tour since I was 3 years old.”
Franken, a native of Raleigh who played college golf at NC State, had the kind of finish he’d like to repeat more often on the Korn Ferry Tour. With a final round of 67 and a total of 17 under par 267, he finished sixth, his fourth top 10 result of the season, and kept his name in the leaderboards for most of the sunny day.
Franken, 24, got a big hand in his hometown on the 18th of a gallery that was bigger than expected in Wakefield. After the round, he tossed his golf ball to a young fan and jumped up a hill to the clubhouse like a young man on a mission, looking straight ahead.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Franken after the round. “Right now I’m a bit disappointed because I would have liked to have done better at 17 and 18, but yeah, it was great. I’ve been coming to this event since I was 12 when my dad and parents took me out. So it was really fun. “
Franken bogeyed the 17th par-4 hole, then just missed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th par-4.
Former NC State golfer Stephen Franken from Raleigh had a 67th final round and finished sixth in the REX Hospital Open on the Korn Ferry Tour. Chip Alexander
For players like Franken, it’s all about finishing in the top 25 Korn Ferry points. Do that and he too will earn his playing card for the PGA Tour next season.
Franken, a former ACC Player of the Year with the pack, spent much of the past year traveling during the pandemic, which meant his life pretty much was spent on the golf course or in a hotel room.
“It was definitely a grind, definitely,” he said. “Last year was really weird with COVID. It took me a while to figure out the transition from college to pro because you travel so much more. You’re never home. “
Grew up as a Canes fan
Raised in Raleigh, Franken was a die-hard Carolina Hurricanes fan and played in the Junior Hurricanes program for several years. He said he was in some of the Canes playoff games in 2006 when the Canes won the Stanley Cup.
In his tour biography, he names Canes trainer Rod Brind’Amour, the 2006 team captain, as one of his favorite athletes. Another favorite from the 2006 team: Mike Commodore.
Like Commodore, Franken was a defender in junior hockey. Like Commodore, he has red hair. Commodore was famous for its red, bushy ‘fro. And Francs?
“I had a ‘fro’,” he said with a smile.
Commodore got a lot of attention during the 2006 Cup run for wearing a white bathrobe. Franken also had one.
Franks, who played golf at Millbrook High, earned a spot on the Wolfpack golf team under former coach Richard Sykes and earned a degree in finance while receiving the All-ACC award. He continues to work with Raleigh golf instructor Chase Duncan and spent some time with him this week in front of the Rex at Lonnie Poole Golf Course.
No swing tweaks, however. “I just make sure I’m in sync,” said Franken.
Franconia left the Rex 65th in Korn Ferry points after winning $ 136,185 for the season. His best result that season was a tie for fourth place in the Huntsville Championship in early May.
The Rex Hospital Open 2019 was Franconia’s first professional event and he shot 77-74 to miss the cut. At the Korn Ferry Qualifying Tournament in December 2019, however, he finished seventh. Now he’s trying to establish himself, to prove that he can take the next step and win.
“I just stay in the present moment and record it one by one,” he said.
Stay patient, stay on course professionally, keep your eyes straight.
In more than 30 years with The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the beats of NC State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina and is now in his 11th season with the Carolina Hurricanes Beat. Alexander, who has won numerous state and national author awards, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was part of The N & O’s coverage of the 2006 Stanley Cup run of the Canes.