October 15, 2009 (Updated 10/16) –The Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is in full swing, so to speak, and golfers are still going way low, despite the PGA Tour changing the third hole at Las Vegas golf course TPC Summerlin from a par 5 into a par 4 for this year's event. Veteran Tom Pernice, Jr. and former Las Vegas champ Troy Matteson are the current leaders, recording rounds of 9-under par 62 while Las Vegas' Scott Piercy fired a 64 as did 3-time Las Vegas champ Jim Furyk (Spencer Levin also came in with a late 62). Piercy spent nearly as much time watching his phone as he did his golf ball because his wife is expecting a child at any moment. It's still up in the air what Piercy will do when and if she goes into labor this weekend. "I told her I will do whatever she wants," said Piercy, who grew up in Las Vegas and played junior and high school golf here.
"I called her right when I was done and she said 'you really don't want to see this baby come home right now, do you?'" Piercy said. "If I have a five stroke lead, we'll see when the baby would come." Piercy got off to a terrific start early in the year, but sputtered towards the end even though he did qualify for the first Fed Ex Cup event. "I feel like I'm a better player than I was then," said Piercy." It's only been nine months or so. When you get on a roll everything seems pretty easy. Early in the year things were seeming pretty easy." Piercy is one of no less than 13 Las Vegas golfers in the field who have strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses.
But it was Pernice who had a share of the lead, at least as of this writing, who matched his career-best round with his 62. Pernice is making his 529th start on the PGA Tour and is currently double-dipping as he won the SAS Championship on the Champions Tour earlier this year. He is making his 18th start in Las Vegas and his best finish is a tie 7th in 2006. He also finished in a tie for 8th in 2008.
Unfortunately, not every golfer was going low in the early part of the first day and among those struggling was former 4-time UNLV All-American Chris Riley, who is presenting UNLV Head Coach into the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame this weekend. Riley fired a two-over par 73. Also, Lake Las Vegas PGA of America professional Wes Weston shot a 3-over par 74 in only his second-ever PGA Tour event. And defending champion Marc Turnesa's struggles continued as he ended with a 1-over par 71. Davis Love III, the 1993 Las Vegas Invitational champ, carded a 74.
On the good side of the ledger were former UNLV Rebels Chad Campbell and Ryan Moore, who fired matching rounds of 67 while playing together. Another former champ, Matteson, was going very low and was 8-under par through 17 holes as of this writing. Matteson won the 2006 Las Vegas PGA Tour event, then called the FRYS.com Open. But Furyk, who is there lurking among the leaders, is basically a walking ATM when he plays in Las Vegas, having won the tournament in 1995, 1998, and 1999. Furyk was also a member of the victorious Presidents Cup team that won the title just last weekend. And he is the all-time money earner in Las Vegas PGA Tour history.
"I feel okay," said Furyk while commenting about a possible let down from the Presidents Cup. "I felt like I played pretty well the first two days of the President's Cup. I wasn't happy with the way I played on Sunday. I didn't feel like I controlled the golf ball real well. It was tough to get my rhythm here on Tuesday and Wednesday because the wind was blowing. It wasn't easy to practice. The wind was blowing in left‑to‑right on the range. It was worthless for me, and to get a good feel of what I was doing. I think early in the round out, you're trying to ease into it gently with my swing. I got in a nice rhythm in the middle of the round that I would have liked to have continued but I hit it close for a bunch of holes. I feel good about my game. There is always things that we need to work on and want to work on. We want to get better at."