Published on February 14, 2018

First Citizens’ Ed Willingham to Serve as Chairman of 2018 REX Hospital Open

Triangle’s premier professional golf tournament returns to TPC Wakefield May 31-June 3

Ed WillinghamRALEIGH, N.C. – Feb. 14, 2018 – Ed Willingham, a top executive at First Citizens Bank, one of North Carolina’s largest banks, will serve as chairman of the 2018 REX Hospital Open, the Triangle’s premier charity golf tournament.

“At First Citizens Bank, we understand that the health of our community is a vital component of its success,” Willingham said. “That’s why we’ve supported the UNC REX professional charity golf tournament since its inception 31 years ago. UNC REX is such an important asset to our community, and the REX Hospital Open is one of the premier events in our state. The tournament not only provides Raleigh and the Triangle with a wonderful opportunity to host world-class golf, but it also supports enhanced medical care and services for local patients and their families.”

Willingham joined Raleigh-based First Citizens Bank in 1987 and became Chief Operating Officer in 2014. His community leadership is extensive, including serving on the board of UNC Health Care. First Citizens operates more than 540 branches in 21 states.

In his role as chairman of the REX Hospital Open, Willingham will serve as the tournament’s community ambassador and help raise awareness of its charity mission. The REX Hospital Open returns to TPC Wakefield Plantation, a McConnell Golf course, in Raleigh, May 31-June 3, 2018. 

“We are thrilled to have a community leader like Ed to help us make this year’s REX Hospital Open a success for players, fans and volunteers,” said Steve Burriss, president of UNC REX Healthcare. “Our tournament relies heavily on support from a wide range of partners who recognize the value of our mission.”

The 2017 REX Hospital Open was a tremendous success. Marking the 30th year of REX charity golf, the event netted more than $470,000 for the REX Healthcare Foundation. That was the largest charity contribution in the event’s history and helped support the new North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital at UNC REX’s main Raleigh campus.  

Proceeds from the 2018 REX Hospital Open will support the expansion of Neuroscience care and services at UNC REX. Located in what is considered the buckle of the stroke belt, UNC REX is seeing an increased demand for more specialized neuroscience services with the region’s aging and growing population. Expanding specialized care will help patients suffering from strokes, aneurysms, traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy and other neurological diseases.

The REX Hospital Open is one of 27 events on the 2018 Tour schedule. The Tour is the primary pathway to the PGA TOUR with 50 Tour professionals earning PGA TOUR cards for the following year. For more information, visit

The 2018 REX Hospital Open is seeking volunteers to serve in a wide range of roles, including walking scorers, marshals, hospitality services, player shuttles and more. For more information, visit