September 20, 2009–Las Vegas golf author and personality Jack Sheehan is always out and about talking to the biggest names in Las Vegas golf. Recently, he hit practice balls with former UNLV star and current PGA Tour player Bill Lunde, and casually discussed various Las Vegas golf issues of the day. Lunde, who was a member of the 1998 UNLV National Championship team, lives in Las Vegas in the same neighborhood as fellow PGA Tour player and former Rebel Charley Hoffman. Lunde catapulted onto the PGA Tour this season after some difficult times.
Lunde's comeback story has been told many times, but as reminder, a couple years ago he became so disenchanted with the game of golf that he quit the sport and got a real job. He went to work for the Las Vegas Founders, the former operational group that organized Las Vegas' PGA Tour event. But after just a few months on that job, the PGA Tour elected to bring in a different group to run what is now called the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals For Children Open.
Lunde then picked up the clubs again and dominated the local Butch Harmon Vegas Tour, and earned status on the Nationwide Tour via Q School before parlaying that into exempt status for the 2009 PGA Tour season. As of this writing, he had earned $579,641 and was 125th on the money list, just inside the top 125 golfers who will keep status for 2010. Sheehan joked that maybe the new group running the PGA Tour event might need some help in sales if Lunde were interested. "Yeah, I was really great there," Lunde told Sheehan with a smile. "You noticed they fired the Founders after my one year there." Lunde should be in the field October 15-18 when the event hits Las Vegas.
Lunde is just one of about 30 pros with strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses. Lunde, Hoffman, Bob May, Dean Wilson, Alex Cejka, and many other Las Vegas pros play and practice at TPC Las Vegas, among other Las Vegas golf courses. TPC Las Vegas is a Las Vegas resort golf course that is billed as the home to pro golf in Las Vegas. Events on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour have been played there. For information on the latest TPC Las Vegas golf deals or to reserve your Las Vegas golf tee times, click to TPC.com/lasvegas, the official website for the course. Currently, TPC Las Vegas is offering an online best rate gaurantee of $125 for vistors to Las Vegas, a large savings over the regular rate.
Lunde is still a bit upset about a tough finish he had at the 50th Bob Hope Classic hosted by Arnold Palmer. Lunde was in position for a terrific finish and a huge start to his PGA Tour career, but made a double bogey on the final hole of the tournament when he plopped one in the water. He still ended in a tie for 14th, earning $86,700, but had he closed the deal with a birdie he would have finished in a tie for 3rd and won about $295,000. As Sheehan said, "The water ball cost him about $200,000 and now he has to have a strong finish this fall to keep his card." But knowing the depths from which Lunde has come, it's a sure thing that he'll be back on the PGA Tour in 2010.