May 20, 2009–The first stage of qualifying for the 2009 U.S. Open started for several Las Vegas golfers this week at Las Vegas golf course DragonRidge Country Club. Six golfers moved on to the next round of qualifying led by Matthew Giles, who plays golf at the University of Southern California. But each of the five other golfers moving on have strong ties to the Las Vegas area and our Las Vegas golf courses. In other Las Vegas golf news, Joseph Harrison won the Southern Nevada Amateur, a major event on the Southern Nevada Golf Association schedule.
Giles fired a solid 68 over the holes of Las Vegas golf course DragonRidge Country Club followed by Las Vegas resident and professional Jeff Gallagher, who plays and practices at DragonRidge. Gallagher has played in nine events on the Nationwide Tour to this point this season, earning more than $38,000. Gallagher is a two-time winner on what is now called the Nationwide Tour, winning the 1991 Ben Hogan Cleveland Open and the 2000 BUY.com South Carolina Classic. Gallagher has also played the PGA Tour in 1996, 1998-99, 2002-03. In 2008, he made six of 12 cuts on the Nationwide Tour and finished 96th on the money list with $61,850 in earnings. Gallagher has lived in the Las Vegas area for several years and actively participates in charitable fundraisers for various organizations.
Current UNLV golfer Ji Moon, former UNLV golfer and 1991 NCAA Champion Warren Schutte, and Anthem Country Club professional Travis Long each fired a 70 to tie for third and move on in the process. A 7-golfer playoff was ended when former UNLV golfer Mike Ruiz chipped in on on the 4th playoff hole, a par 5. Ruiz outlasted Las Vegas resident Bob May, who is playing on the Nationwide Tour this year, in addition to Matthew Kodama, Rich Earlywine, Jarrod Johnson, Drew Scott, and Richard Mcintosh. Ruiz earned the last of six spots to move on to the next stage.
All six golfers now move on to the next stage of qualifying in an attempt to live a dream and play Bethpage Black in New York, site of this year's U.S. Open. The event will be played June 18-21 with Tiger Woods defending his championship that he won at Torrey Pines in 2008. Woods won the 2008 event while dealing with several knee issues, and was assisted throughout the week by noted Las Vegas physical therapist Keith Kleven.
Las Vegas is the home to more than 60 Las Vegas golf courses, and at last count, there were 29 golfers with strong ties to Las Vegas golf listed on the official money lists of the golf's biggest tours, the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour, the Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour. Click now for a complete guide to Las Vegas' pros. The featured Las Vegas golf course for this article is Boulder Creek Golf Club. Boulder Creek features 27 holes of Las Vegas golf.
The US Open Qualifying was organized by the staff and volunteers of the Southern Nevada Golf Association. The Southern Nevada Golf Association is the arm of the United States Golf Association in the Las Vegas area, and is led by Executive Director Nicole Dutt, a longtime Las Vegas PGA of America golf professional. The association annually organizes many different high-level amateur events.