July 14, 2008 (UPDATED 2:45 PST, July 18)–There are three golfers playing in the British Open–officially called The Open Championship–with deep ties to Las Vegas. First is Adam Scott, the former UNLV golfer who is the world's third-ranked player, and a pick by many to win his first major this week. Scott is making his 9th appearance in the event, and is riding a streak of making four cuts in a row at the Open, including a tie for 8th in 2006. Second is Craig Barlow, a native of Las Vegas who plays out of Reflection Bay Golf Club, who nabbed a spot in the Open by qualifying in late June at Dearborn Country Club in Michigan. It is the first appearance for Barlow at the Open, a 12-year veteran of the PGA Tour. The third Las Vegas golfer is Alex Cejka (pictured), who now resides in Summerlin and plays a lot of golf at TPC Las Vegas. Cejka grabbed a spot on the same day as Barlow, but at the TPC of Michigan. Cejka finished tied for 11th in 1996 and tied for 13th in 2001, and is making his 7th appearance. Scott is still working through a hand injury, but says he wouldn't be playing if it wasn't OK. "I am ready for 100 percent golf but whether my finger is 100 percent healed I'm not sure," Scott said before last week's Scottish Open. "The finger seems okay and I'm still having treatment on it but it doesn't bother me. But I would not be playing this week or next week if it was not okay." Horrible weather greeted the golfers in the first round, and unfortunately Barlow's early tee time sealed his fate. He followed his first round 79 with a respectable 72 in the second round but missed the cut. Scott is in at +4 and in a tie for 16th. Cejka shot 76 to land in a tie for 74th after the first round and followed with a 74 and missed the cut by a single shot.
Scott works with Las Vegas' Butch Harmon who operates the Harmon School of Golf located at Rio Secco Golf Club, one of three Las Vegas golf courses operated by Harrah's Golf. Cascata and Las Vegas National Golf Club are the other two Las Vegas golf courses.
The Open Championship is being played at Royal Birkdale this year. Las Vegas golf course Royal Links Golf Club, a layout that honors the fine tradition of the Open Championship, features two holes from Royal Birkdale.
Barlow has earned $129,732 in 13 events in 2008. He also successfully qualified for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines but missed the cut, despite feeling very good about the state of his game heading into the tournament. Barlow has yet to win a PGA Tour event, but has earned more than $4.9 million in his career. And he has earned a reputation of a player who is very determined.
"In one word, desire," Barlow has said about why he believes he has been successful in living his dream. "You have to want it. I’m not sure if it’s something that can be taught or if some people are just born with it, but you have to have a burning desire to succeed."
Barlow holed an 111-foot, five-inch putt for eagle during the Buick Open earlier this month. It is currently the longest putt made on the PGA Tour this year.
Cejka has earned $882,898 in 20 events in 2008. He is originally from Germany, but moved to Laughlin several years ago, before deciding that Las Vegas was best for him due to the weather, airport access and golf courses. For awhile, Cejka played both the European Tour and PGA Tour, but decided to focus solely on the PGA Tour in recent years.
"I finally decided to completely focus here because everything is just a bit easier and a bit better on the PGA Tour," Cejka told us earlier this year during an interview for an article in VegasGolfer Magazine. "It’s tough on the body to fly back and forth to compete on both tours. And I think to win I need to focus on one tour. I’m not 19 anymore. These days I fly first-class across the country and I struggle, let alone flying coach like I used to so I could play in events in other countries."
Players from 27 countries are represented at the 2008 Open Championship.