February 27, 2009 (UPDATED 2/28) –The trend continues on the PGA Tour of Las Vegas golfers challenging for wins. This week, most of the eyes of the golf world are focused on Arizona for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships–where Tiger returned–but the Mayakoba Golf Classic is also being played in Mexico. And Chris Riley (pictured), a close friend of Tiger and a part-time Vegas resident, shot a 5-under 67 in the first round while other Las Vegas golfers are also playing well. LIVE SCORING.
Las Vegas resident Scott Piercy was at -4, three shots off the lead, while fellow resident Dean Wilson was at -2. Former UNLV Rebels Chad Campbell and James Oh were at +1 while another former Rebel, Bill Lunde, was at +4. Former resident Robert Gamez was at +5, but current resident Alex Cejka withdrew from the event due to back problems. Click the live scoring button for results and live status of the Vegas pros. About half-way through the third round, Piercy and Riley were best at -6.
Riley won the 2002 Reno-Tahoe Open and played in the 2004 Ryder Cup, but has registered only two top-10 finishes since 2004. He has missed three straight cuts on TOUR, including in his only two starts this season and his final event of 2008 at the Ginn sur Mer. Riley also became the first player in tournament history to eagle the 386-yard par-4 17th hole. "I think I've been playing pretty good," Riley told the media following the round. "The last two tournaments I've played on the West Coast has been raining. Pebble Beach was rainy and windy. And I don't hit the ball that far, so it was a challenge up there. And the other tournament in San Diego, I felt good."
An interesting note about Piercy is that he is tied for 181st in TOUR Driving Accuracy and third in TOUR Driving Distance (305.8). Piercy finished in the top 5 on the Nationwide Tour money list, winiing twice, to earn his playing priviliges for 2009. Piercy grew up in Las Vegas and played high school golf at Bonanza before playing collegiately at San Diego State.
Las Vegas is home to more than two dozen pro golfers who either live in the are or have strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses. Other pros with deep ties to Las Vegas include PGA Tour winners Charley Hoffman, Adam Scott and Nick Watney in addition to LPGA Tour champs Natalie Gulbis and Inbee Park. Las Vegas is also home to more than 60 Las Vegas golf courses. The featured golf course this week is Mesquite's Wolf Creek Golf Club, a course that is located about 77 miles from Las Vegas but worth the trip. This course plays through the canyons and ravines in the Mesquite area and has been included on several national awards lists for its quality. Click now for complete Wolf Creek Golf Club information. Or click to MesquiteGolfNow.com.
Riley also said that he enjoys this particular PGA Tour event because of the quality of the golf course, El Camaleón Golf Club at Mayakoba. The course is a Greg Norman beauty. "I think this course is probably one of the best one we played on TOUR," said Riley. "The World Golf Championships if they could get here would be great. I mean you gotta hit it straight, you gotta hit it close. It's just a great place to come, and the golf course is pretty awesome. I think it's top five on the TOUR for sure."