February 12, 2008–Bill Walters, President of the Walters Group and owner of three Las Vegas golf courses including Bali Hai Golf Club–pictured–, finished a record-setting 10 shots clear at the PGA Tour's historic AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, played over Pebble Beach, Spyglass and Poppy Hills on the famous 17-mile drive in California. Walters partnered with PGA Tour player Fredrik Jacobson to fire rounds (with Walters receiving an 11 handicap) of 65-62-62-61–250. Walters owns Las Vegas golf courses Royal Links Golf Club, Bali Hai Golf Club and Desert Pines Golf Club, and he was shown several times on the Sunday CBS telecast with the announcers–CBS' David Feherty endorses Walters Golf–commenting that they had played some golf with him before and he was "a very good player who was willing to play for just about anything." Walters says that "It was the most phenomenal week of golf that I've ever had." Five of the PGA Tour pros with Las Vegas golf ties, led by Chris Riley who finished 24th, made the cut.
Other Las Vegas PGA Tour pros who made the cut include John Riegger (t34), Ryan Moore (t48), Nick Watney (t58) and Alex Cejka (t58). Craig Barlow, Charley Hoffman, Skip Kendall, Bob May, Robert Gamez and Dean Wilson missed the cut.
"I have never, ever, ever putted that well I don't think," says Walters, who admits to having the yips in the weeks leading up to the tournament but received a magic grip that ended those. "I don't think I ever missed anything inside of 10 feet the entire tournament."
Before the event, Walters met a rep from Super Stroke, the grip that PGA Tour star KJ Choi uses, and practiced with it on the putting green. He didn't miss many and the rep fitted his putter with one and the rest is history. "I will never putt without the Super Stroke again," says Walters. "I was breaking down in my stroke, but the Super Stroke keeps your left shoulder solid and you grip it lightly and you can't break down with it."
Walters also credits his pro for making 16 birdies and 2 eagles during the four rounds, with most coming at a time when Walters was struggling on a hole. "This might have been the best ham and egg job of all time," says Walters.
Walters also says that the tournament organizers do a wonderful job and are sure to invite golfers who respect the game and the PGA Tour pros who are working for a living. "The atmosphere is phenomenal and the tournament is run as good as it gets," says Walters.
News of Walters win, and because of his unique Las Vegas background, got national attention including the following paragraph in the San Francisco chronicle written by Ron Kroichick.
"We would not suggest anything nefarious, but Fredrik Jacobson tied for 14th in the tournament, at 4-under. That means his amateur partner, Las Vegas golf-company owner Bill Walters, helped Jacobson with 34 strokes – they ran away with the pro-am competition at 38-under.
"It seems fair to mention Walters was the subject of a Golf Digest profile in 2002, in which his exploits as a gambling man and 'golf hustler' were detailed. At one point, the piece described him as a '3-handicapper disguised as a 16.'
"Walters carried an 11-handicap in the AT&T."
In Las Vegas, Walters is known for his football betting prowess and other gambling tales, but also for his generosity to several causes including Opportunity Village and the Boys and Girls Club, among others. Walters also recently worked a deal that turned over the legendary Wildhorse Golf Club to the City of Henderson, a Las Vegas suburb. The course offers locals very affordable golf rates, and also operates several junior golf clinics and other community outreach efforts.
Danny Gans, the Mirage headliner, made his second appearance in the event, playing with PGA Tour player Mathias Gronberg. Gans missed the cut but shot solid rounds of 72-71-68–211.
Royal Links Golf Club is 18 holes of golf that honor the greatness and history of the British Open, with each hole uniquely designed as a replica to a famous hole played at the Open Championship. Holes include the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon and the Road Hole at St. Andrews among others.
Bali Hai Golf Club is a golf escape to the South Pacific with holes played in the shadows of hundreds pf palm trees, fairways decorated by cool water features, and stark white sand accenting the waste areas.
Desert Pines Golf Club is often referred to as "Pinehurst in the desert" because thousands of pine trees dot the layout that is fun and challenging golf experience.