April 13, 2009-The country–the world for that matter–looks at Las Vegas with kind of a glazed-over, can't-believe-it-exists stare. For the most part, folks don't realize–or don't want to–that Las Vegas is really a great place to live, and that there are 'normal' people who dwell in this adult fantasy land. But the fact is, especially when it comes to golf, Las Vegas has a great and close community, and on Sunday, April 12, one of its members came within one solid 7-iron shot of becoming champion of the 2009 Masters.. But unfortunately Chad Campbell, a former Las Vegas resident and UNLV All-American, pushed his shot into the bunker on the first playoff hole–Augusta's first hole–and never recovered, and Las Vegas golf didn't add another major to its trophy case. FINAL RESULTS.
"I was pretty excited to hit the fairway," Campbell told the media just minutes after getting shut out of the three-way playoff with other competitors Angel Cabrera (eventual champ) and Kenny Perry, who each tied at -12 after 72 holes of regulation play." I haven't hit the fairway there all week I think. I get up there and had a perfect 7-iron and I just kind of hung it out to the right. I guess I was a little bit worried about turning it over, and just kind of held on to it. I hit a great bunker shot. I really thought that bunker shot was very makeable and gave it a good roll, and three feet, 3 1/2 feet by. I just pushed the putt. It was a left-edge putt and just kind of left the blade open." And just like that, Campbell's dream was over and hundreds–thousands?–of Las Vegas golfers hearts hit the floor. Click now for more details on Campbell's ties to Las Vegas. Also, keep close to GolfLasVegasNow.com as we are working to reach Campbell for a first-hand report on his experience.
Campbell would have become the second golfer with strong ties to Las Vegas golf to win a major championship, joining the LPGA Tour's Inbee Park (pictured) who won the 2008 U.S. Women's Open. Park won two Nevada State High School titles while playing at Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman and still calls Las Vegas her main residence. But the list is very long of players who either live here, grew up here, or went to UNLV, who now play golf's major tours, and it's only a matter of time before a Las Vegas golfer wears a green jacket, sips from the Claret Jug, or slams home a PGA Championship (remember Bob May, who battled Tiger in 2000 at the PGA Championship? He still calls Las Vegas home. Campbell himself narrowly lost to Shaun Micheel at the 2003 PGA).
Some of the PGA Tour, Nationwide Tour, Champions Tour and LPGA Tour players with strong ties to Las Vegas include: Adam Scott, UNLV; Nick Watney, resident; Chris Riley, UNLV and part-time resident; Charley Hoffman, UNLV and resident; Dean Wilson, resident; Alex Cejka, resident; Tommy Armour III, grew up in Las Vegas; Robert Gamez, grew up in Las Vegas; Craig Barlow, resident; Bill Lunde, UNLV and resident; Skip Kendall, UNLV; James Oh, UNLV; Scott Piercy, resident; Natalie Gulbis, resident; Jim Colbert, former resident; Alex Prugh, resident; Jeff Gallagher, resident; Jeremy Anderson, resident; Warren Schutte, UNLV; Ryan Moore; Erica Blasberg, resident; Stephanie Louden, grew up here; Kin Hall, resident; and more. At this Masters, Watney finished in 19th while Scott missed the cut.
The Las Vegas Golf Region is now home to more than 60 Las Vegas golf courses. The featured Las Vegas golf course for this article is actually the three Las Vegas golf courses of OB Sports, an award-winning golf management company. OB Sports operates Legacy Golf Club Club, an Arthur Hills design that has hosted US Open regional qualifying; Angel Park Golf Club, billed as the World's Most Complete Golf Experience; and Aliante Golf Club, a Gary Panks design that is one of Las Vegas' newest courses. You can click to each individual golf course website for information or go to VegasGolfCentral.com for complete access to Las Vegas golf tee times and great Las Vegas golf deals.
On Masters Sunday, Campbell had Las Vegas golf fans texting and calling each other, delaying Easter celebrations to watch the playoff, and, in general, sharing in the excitement of a homegrown player attempting to join golf's most exclusive club. So who will be the first male PGA Tour player with strong ties to Las Vegas to win a major? Well, taking a look at the just-released odds for the U.S. Open from GolfOdds.com, it looks like a long shot. Watney and Scott are 50-1, while Campbell is 60-1, up from the 125-1 he was to start the Masters. Currently, the rest of the Las Vegas golfers are amongst the field bet at 9/2. All we know is that when a Vegas golfer hits the top of the leaderboard, the community will be watching. "I might be disappointed for a little while," said Campbell, in his always understated fashion. "But then I will look to the positives and move forward." And Las Vegas golf will be right there with him.