February 7, 2009 (UPDATED FEB 8) –So can the student beat out the boss over the final two rounds of the PGA Tour Buick Invitational? Once again, two Las Vegas golfers, Charley Hoffman and Nick Watney, are chasing the leaders, as both did last weekend at the FBR, when Hoffman lost in a playoff and Watney finished in the top 10 but was the second-round leader after a career-best 63, Hoffman works with Shawn Callahan, a Butch Harmon disciple, while Watney works with the man himself. The Butch Harmon School of Golf is located at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco Golf Club. Watney went on to win the event, while Hoffman finished in a tie for 7th. Click now for complete winning story.
Hoffman was 7-under par and in third place after two rounds while Watney was in fourth. After his first PGA Tour win, the 2007 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Hoffman credited Callahan with getting his game back in shape. "When my game started turning (around) the most is when I started working with Shawn Callahan; he works under Butch Harmon at the Butch Harmon School of Golf," Hoffman said. "We retooled my swing, no major changes, but just got my swing a little bit better … Once I started to see him, he turned my game around. And putting, Coach (Dwaine) Knight has helped me a lot at UNLV. He still works with my putting and there's been some great putters on TOUR that have gone through Coach Knight; Chad Campbell, Chris Riley, and I guess he trained me to sort of putt pretty good."
Watney moved to Las Vegas recently. One of the main reasons he moved was to be closer to Harmon, and he now lives very close to the School that is located in the community of Seven Hills that is in the southeast part of the valley. "It's a bit of a tax move," said Watney during the 2008 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open played in Las Vegas. "Plus travel is easy out of here and I work with Butch Harmon, so he's right down the street. It's a good thing to be close to him." Public golf schools and academies are available at the Harmon School. Click now for complete details of the Butch Harmon School of Golf. Also included can be complete Las Vegas golf packages for those traveling to Las Vegas.
Hoffman grew up in the San Diego area and refers to the Buick event as his personal major. "I've watched this tournament since I can remember watching golf," said Hoffman. "I remember coming out here and watching Fuzzy and John Daly and great guys who won 20 years ago. This is my major. I'm not in any majors this year. This is the tournament I want to win, and hopefully I win this and get into a few more majors."
Hoffman said it was good experience to make the FBR playoff, but he was very upset to lose and he is very much looking to win the Buick. "Am I riding high? No, I wanted to go out and get a W," said Hoffman. "I want to get in the Masters. I want to play — it gave me a little more incentive to come out here. Even though it's my home tournament I wanted to get in the Masters and get ready for the end of the year and the FedExCup and play good golf throughout the whole year. So I think it burned a little fire underneath me to get it going and get another W."
While Hoffman was a freshman at UNLV he traveled back to San Diego and qualified for the Buick. He then went out and had a solid tournament, making the cut. "It was a great experience," said Hoffman. "What I vaguely remember was warming up on the range and Craig Stadler is to my right and Peter Jacobsen to the left and guys I grew up idolizing, and I'm playing the golf tournament with these guys on the weekend. Unfortunately I didn't play that well on the weekend. My expectations were sort of met once I made the cut, so sort of all the hype was gone. I didn't end up playing that well. I think I want to say I played with like Franklin Langham and Taylor Smith. Unfortunately Taylor Smith is no longer with us, but those guys were great to me. Like I said, the three times I played as an amateur it was the best experience in golf I've ever had."
Las Vegas is home to more than 20 golfers who play on the biggest tours in the world including the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and Nationwide Tour. Adam Scott and Ryan Moore are former UNLV Rebel All-Americans, while Hoffman and fellow PGA Tour pro Bill Lunde–also from San Diego–were teammates on the 1998 UNLV National Championship team. Las Vegas is also home to around 70 golf courses that are designed by some of the best designers in the world. the featured Las Vegas golf course pick today is Painted Desert Golf Club. Painted Desert Golf Club was built in 1987 and was the first true desert golf course in Las Vegas. PGA TOur star Robert Gamez holds the course record at Painted Desert. Click now to view the official website and all info about Painted Desert Golf Club.