November 13, 2009 (updated Nov 17) –It's tough to keep official stats on this number, but when current PGA Tour player Ricky Fowler let it be known to Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open tournament director Adam Sperling that he was moving to Las Vegas, he brought the unofficial total number of pros with strong Vegas ties competing on the major golf tours to 30. And Fowler quickly made an impact by finishing in a tie for 7th in his first PGA Tour event as a professional, earning $113,700 in the process. Fowler's hot play has continued in the following weeks, following that debut at Las Vegas golf course TPC Summerlin. LIVE RESULTS.
Fowler, who lives about a mile from Las Vegas golf courses TPC Las Vegas and TPC Summerlin, the two Las Vegas golf courses owned by the PGA Tour, followed up his Vegas top 10 finish with a tie for second the very next week at the FRYS.com, where he lost a playoff to Troy Matteson, a former Las Vegas PGA Tour champion. The next week's Viking Classic was rained out, but Fowler's hot hand continued at the Children's Miracle Network Classic, the final PGA Tournament of the season. Fowler fired a nice 66 to stand one shot out of the lead after the opening round. If he can earn a nice check, he will qualify for the 2010 season without going to Q School. He had earned about $553,000 in his first two starts, about $70,000 and 10 spots from the magic 125 qualification number. But no matter what happens, sponsors will be knocking down doors to give him exemptions next year. Fowler finished 40th and didn't achieve full exempt status.
"I'm not doing anything different really, just kind of playing golf," Fowler told the media about the quick start to his professional career. "I'm just making less mistakes, and like I was talking about yesterday, committing to more shots, fully committing. So it's nothing better than I've ever played before, and I'd say it's, you know, just going out and playing steady rounds of golf."
The two TPC Las Vegas golf courses are the home of many of the pros with strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses. Some of the names that play and practice at the courses are Folwer-buddy Scott Piercy, Dean Wilson, Alex Cejka, Kevin Na, Charley Hoffman, Chris Riley, Bill Lunde, and others. TPC Las Vegas is a Las Vegas resort golf course that is open to the public. Click now for the official website of TPC Las Vegas for more Las Vegas golf information or to reserve your Las Vegas golf tee times at this Las Vegas golf course that has hosted events on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour. Fowler and Las Vegas native Piercy played a practice round together prior to this tournament.
Fowler is also getting attention for the route that he has taken to the PGA Tour. Fowler was once a stud motocross racer, but a knee injury ended that journey. However, Fowler also flourished on the golf course, due to being a driving-range rat as a youngster. Fowler grew up in Murietta, California, learning the game from a gentleman at the local driving range. Fowler, and others, take pride in, as one media member in Florida put it, his non-silver spoon trek to the top of the golf world.
"I know my coach at school (Mike McGraw, Oklahoma State), he definitely (liked) the upbringing that I had," said Fowler, who was an All-American at the school before leaving after his sophomore season. "I think there's quite a few other people out there that like it. Some people think it's odd that I came out that way. There's not many guys that are coming through that route anymore. I definitely like that background the way I came up. I know my swing better than most people, I think know their own nowadays. Just a lot of guys I think get so reliant on coaches. So I like the way I came out, and I definitely think there's some people that think it's — it's definitely unique, but they like it.
"I worked with a guy named Barry McDonald back home since I was seven mainly through high school. Once I went to college I was away. I think he flew out once to help me before the World Amateur last year. Other than that, I'm basically on my own and doing my thing. I haven't seen him for quite a while. He's really the only swing coach that I've had. We've never used video camera, and basically when I'm the road I don't have a coach. Now that I'm living in Vegas, like I said earlier, I just go out and work on fundamentals and work on hitting solid golf shots, and from there working on ball flight." No matter how he got to the PGA Tour, it looks as if he will be representing Las Vegas on the biggest stages for a long time.
Update: Mostly due to a tough second-round 75, Fowler tumbled out of contention at the event, and finished in a tie for 40th, a finish that didn't earn enough to finish within the top 125 of the money list. But his success during the latter part of the season after he turned professional allows him to go directly to the final stage of Q School. Plus, he finished in the top 150 on the money which secures him status on the Nationwide Tour and the ability to get in some 2010 PGA Tour events, no matter his finish during the final stage. Plus, as one of the hottest names in golf, Fowler can claim sponsors exemptions, if needed. His 'poor' finish hadn't deterred him in the least.
"The whole last month has been awesome," Fowler sai to the media following the win. "I'll find a way to get out here. I feel like I can play with these guys. I put up a couple of good finishes. You never know. It could come from going to Q School. It could be a few years of grinding it out and trying to get exemptions. But I'll find a way to get out here." PHOTO: Steve Spatafore.