October 14, 2009–As Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Tournament Director Adam Sperling revealed to us a few weeks ago, amateur–now pro–golf superstar Rickie Fowler is the newest professional to call Las Vegas home. Fowler, who turned professional after helping the Unites States win the Walker Cup a few weeks ago, told the media today that he moved into a house in Summerlin, a Las Vegas area just about one mile from Las Vegas golf course TPC Summerlin, where the PGA Tour plays this week. The tournament marks his debut as a pro on the PGA Tour. LIVE SCORING.
"The timing for turning pro is waiting around for the Walker Cup which is the second week of September," said Fowler, who was an All-American at powerhouse Oklahoma State. "From there the PGA Tour was a week off in the playoffs. So this is really the first PGA Tour event I could get a spot at and luckily I got one. I just moved here last week. So it's a pretty special start just because I'm a new resident. It's a great tournament, a great field put together by just Justin Timberlake, and they get a lot of support with the celebrities today. It's a great event to be a part of. To be in the first pairing, I'm excited."
The tournament committee awarded Fowler a sponsor's exemption. Fowler also tweeted the following about Las Vegas: "Just out to dinner with the fam … heading to supercross the next two nights … loving Vegas!!" Fowler was referring to the US Open of Motocross at the MGM Grand, where he had VIP tickets. Fowler is a former standout motocross rider. Earlier this week he played practice rounds with former Las Vegas resident Tommy Armour III and Bo Van Pelt, who he worked with during the junior clinic along with Butch Harmon and Timberlake.
Fowler also said he hasn't noticed much change from being a top level amateur to now being a professional looking to earn his way into full-time status on the PGA Tour. "It doesn't feel any different," said Fowler. "People ask me how is it to be a professional now rather than an amateur. I'm still the same guy. I still feel the same when I hit the ball, and the ball goes in the hole, it feels the same. I'm still out here for the same reasons. The feelings haven't changed. I'm still out here to try to win."
With the addition of Fowler, the Las Vegas area continues to grow into one of the top golf destinations for those players competing on the major tours. Current Las Vegas residents who play on the LPGA Tour or PGA Tour include Charley Hoffman, Alex Cejka, Nick Watney, Bill Lunde, Dean Wilson, Criag Barlow, Natalie Gulbis, Kim Hall, and Erica Blasberg, among others. Also, there are more than 50 world-class Las Vegas golf courses in the area that have been designed by the world's biggest names including Tom Fazio, Rees Jones and Pete Dye, among others. The featured Las Vegas golf facility for this article is Primm Valley Golf Club, the home of two Fazio Las Vegas golf courses. Click now for the official Primm Valley website and to reserve your Las Vegas golf tee times.
Now Fowler, Vegas' own, is ready to live out his real-life fantasy that he has been thinking about for a long time. And despite it being a difficult decision, Fowler is happy with his decision to turn pro after his sophomore season. "You know, I was on the fence, I wasn't sure," said Fowler. "I knew I wanted to turn pro but I wasn't sure if it was the right decision. It was all through the second semester. And then toward the end is when I kind of made of my mind, the end of the year, the beginning of the summer, and from there I let my coach and teammates know toward the middle of the summer. They kind of knew there was a chance of me leaving, if not coming back for one more year. It wasn't a big shock to them. They are a little bumbed I was leaving, but also happy for me to move on."
In other JT Shriners news, Las Vegas PGA of America professional Wes Weston is playing in the event due to his win at the local chapter's Championship. He won that tournament over the summer at the Wolf Course at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. The event will mark only the second time that Weston has played in a PGA Tour event, and he said he was hitting it pretty well heading into the tournament. Weston is also planning to try and qualify for the Champions Tour in a couple weeks. Weston will turn 50 in December. A few members at SouthShore Golf Club helped pay his way into the qualifier.