December 3, 2008 (UPDATED DEC 7) –There are already seemingly dozens of golf pros with strong ties to Las Vegas playing on the major golf tours, but starting today, several more aspiring Las Vegas pro golfers are attempting to qualify for the LPGA Tour, Nationwide Tour and PGA Tour through the grueling Qualifying School process. Many of these Las Vegas golfers, including Charlotte Mayorkas (pictured), play and practice at the best Las Vegas golf courses including TPC Las Vegas and TPC Summerlin, among others. Read on for LIVE Leaderboards and up-to-the minute results. Several of the Las Vegas pros are in striking distance of securing full privileges. Click the leaderboars for up-to-the-minute results.
The list is highlighted by current and former Las Vegas residents and several former male and female UNLV Rebel golfers. The LPGA Tour Q-School is five rounds and is being played Dec. 3-7 at LPGA International Champions and Legends courses in Daytona Beach, Florida. LIVE SCORING. The PGA TOur Q-School is six rounds and is being played over the holes of the TPC Stadium course and the Nicklaus course at PGA West in La Quinta, California. LIVE SCORING.
Those with ties to Las Vegas golf courses that are playing in the LPGA Tour event include Mayorkas, a resident and LPGA Tour player who has earned $154,000 on the LPGA Tour and is a two-time winner on the Duramed Futures Tour; and former UNLV Rebel golfers Elena Kurokawa, Hwanhee Lee, and Sunny Oh. Oh was the 2003 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, and she also won the 2003 NCAA Western Regional Championship. She competed on the Duramed Futures Tour in 2008 and won her first event of the year, the Bright House Networks Open in Florida.
There are several golfers with ties to Las Vegas golf courses competing in the PGA Tour Q-School, headlined by former UNLV Rebel and PGA Tour winner Chris Riley. Riley was also a member of the 2004 United States Ryder Cup team. Riley earned $388,850 on the PGA Tour in 2008, but that was only good enough for a finish of 166th on the official money list. His best tournament was the U.S. Bank Championship when he finished in third. Riley is one of 20 players in the Q School field who have combined for a total of 48 PGA Tour wins. That list of champions includes former Las Vegas resident Robert Gamez, who grew up in Las Vegas.
Gamez also teed it up at the Q School in 2007 but an on-course injury–he hurt his right wrist while hitting a bunker shot–forced him to withdraw after 10 holes in the final round. This year Gamez is heading into the event fresh off a decent finish at the final event of the PGA Tour Fall Finish, the Children's Miracle Network Classic. Gamez finished in a tie for 48th, but started the final round in a tie for 8th before a disastrous 78 ended his chances. At that event, he talked about the impending Q School.
"This is my 19th season out here, and if I don't get through (it's ok)," Gamez said. "Last year I got injured at the Final Stage of the Q School, so I couldn't finish, and I was a little disappointed with my position, but I still got in a lot of tournaments. And I've made a lot of friends with tournament directors over my career, and I've played Monday Pro-Ams and Wednesday Pro-Ams off site when I didn't have to. And I just have played a lot. I mean every year I play in anywhere from 30 to 35 tournaments, so I support the tournaments, and it's shown with the support I've gotten from the tournament directors and getting me in tournaments. So you know, I feel like no matter what happens, I'll play 15 to 20 times next year, and it should be enough."
The other Las Vegas golfers in the PGA Tour Q School field include Nationwide Tour player and resident Rich Barcelo; resident James Drew who played on the Butch Harmon Vegas Tour; PGA Tour veteran and resident Jeff Gallagher; former UNLV Rebel Ted Oh; resident and PGA Tour veteran Bob May; and Seung Su-Han, who started this year as a senior on the UNLV Rebel golf team, but turned pro upon qualifying for the final stage of Q School.
May has battled through extreme back injuries and surgery, but is now ready to continue what has been a very solid career that includes international wins and top finishes on the PGA Tour. May has gained plenty of perspective during his struggles. "When you start making a decent amount of money, and you get caught up in that, you really lose why we play golf," May told Craig Dolch on PGATOUR.com. "And I realize when I got injured, golf was taken from me. I realized that I played the game because I loved the game. When I took it up as a kid, you can make a decent living, but you weren't going to get rich and wealthy unless you were a superstar. Now, the game has gotten big, and you can make a nice living. But I think that a lot of players have kind of forgotten why they play golf. I learned that I play golf because I love golf. If I wasn't playing golf professionally, I would be involved in it in some way."