August 1, 2009–Just a couple short years ago, at this time, Las Vegas golfer and PGA Tour player Bill Lunde was on a phone call trying to nail down the sale of a skybox for Las Vegas' PGA Tour event. Lunde, who lives in Las Vegas, had given up on his pro golf career and was in the real world. Now, Lunde is near the top of the leaderboard of the PGA Tour's Buick Open, continuing his amazing comeback that started when he qualified for –then won on–the 2008 Nationwide Tour. Lunde plays and practices out of TPC Las Vegas, and lives near fellow Las Vegas PGA Tour player Charley Hoffman.
"I worked for the Las Vegas Founders, the group that ran the PGA Tour event in Las Vegas," said Lunde about his time away from the game. "I did that for eight, nine months, and then I worked for a title company in Las Vegas for six months, and started playing again in the middle of '07. I was in the title business, which with how the market has gone with that, I pretty much was going to get laid off. There was a mini Tour starting in Vegas in the summertime, and … it was a chance to make some money, plus stay at home. And it went well, and I was kind of enjoying playing golf again. … It's been kind of a roller coaster ride, but that's golf, it's always up-and-down."
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Those that know Lunde, who is now 33, have seen a remarkable improvement in his attitude for the game. Before, every little thing on the golf course upset him. His two-year stint in the real world made him understand that he had it pretty good, even when things weren't going as well as possible. Lunde was a member of the 1998 UNLV National Championship team and has lived in the Las Vegas area ever since. Even he recognizes the improvement and what helped make all of his recent good fortune a reality.
"I worked for a couple years," Lunde said following his second round of the Buick, where he was at -11 and three shots behind the leader, John Senden. "I played the Nationwide in '04 and '05 and went to work in '06 and '07 and played the Nationwide last year in '08 and had a great year to get to this position. (I have a) new appreciation for golf. I think a lot of it is, from going into working and noticing what we get to do for a living out here. So I have a whole new appreciation for the game of golf. And it seems like people get right in their prime in their 30s, so maybe something else is going on."
Lunde won about one of every two events he played on the Butch Harmon Vegas Tour that year, thus proving he still had the game. He then went to the PGA Tour Q-School and earned exempt status on the Nationwide Tour. He won the 2008 Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, and finished in the top 10 on the season'ending money list, thus earning his official status on the 2009 PGA Tour. Heading into the Buick Open, Lunde had earned more than $500,000 and stood 117th on the money list, just inside the magic 125 number that solidifies exempt status for 2010. This week, it appears, will change that dramatically.