December 8, 2009–The competition is tough at PGA Tour Q-School, but two Las Vegas golfers with strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses and pretty good resumes finished within the top 25, thus earning their official PGA Tour playing status for 2010. Rickie Fowler, a new Las Vegas resident, finished in a tie for 15th while Chris Riley, a former UNLV star, was 19th.
Both Riley and Fowler would've been eligible for several events in 2010 via sponsor's exemptions and/or their finishes on the PGA Tour in 2009, but it was a relief for each to survive and officially advance. For Riley, it was another solid performance as he continues his march back to where his game once was. Riley, who finished 129th on the 2009 PGA Tour money list, is a former member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team and won the 2002 Reno-Tahoe Open, but hit a dry spell in the middle of this decade. Riley was bummed about another tough finish to an event, but was happy with the overall result.
"I was leaking oil," Riley said of his struggles during the 6th round of Q-School. "You are usually nervous for a couple of holes in a tournament, but in Q-School it never goes away. I haven't finished well on Tour this year and I didn't play well today, but fortunately it was enough. I didn't want to bring attention to it, but I flew in on a redeye and drove straight to the course on Wednesday just in time for my tee time. I knew if I could get through that first round I'd be all right." Riley used to live full-time in Las Vegas, but now splits time between Las Vegas and his native San Diego.
Riley and Fowler are just two of the many people and things that make Las Vegas the Ultimate Golf City. The two are just a small representation of the more than 30 golfers with strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses that play on the world's major tours. The Las Vegas Golf Region is also home to more than 60 golf courses including the Legacy Golf Club, an Arthur Hills design which features one of the most memorable Las Vegas golf holes. The par 3, 10th hole is where each tee box was created in the shape of a suit in a deck of cards. Also, resort golf at the Legacy Golf Club is available for $99. Click now to view these special Las Vegas golf deals and reserve your online Las Vegas golf tee times.
Fowler's resume already has some pretty good professional accomplishments, but it's the amateur side of things where he made his name. Fowler was a 2-time All-American at powerhouse Oklahoma State, and was the NCAA Player of the Year as a freshman. He turned pro late this summer after leading the U.S. to a Walker Cup victory. Fowler moved to Las Vegas a couple months ago. He added to his pro resume by winning more than $500,000 in just a handful of PGA Tour tournaments, but he didn't earn enough to finish in the top 125 of the money list. He also lost in a playoff at the PGA Tour's FRYS.com Open the week after a top 10 finish in Las Vegas.
"I don't think it was as bad for me as some of the other guys out here," said Fowler following the 6-day Q-School grind. "Some of the guys had a lot more on the line than I did. The way I've been playing, I had a lot of confidence coming into the week, but it was still tough. It was a great experience. I had a chance to get into the top 125 but didn't play well at Disney, so Q-School was the path for me the whole way and I was lucky enough to play well. I kept the ball in front of me all week. I think I hit 15 greens today and that definitely helped keep the stress off. It will be nice to have status next year and hopefully play well." Fowler is an avid Tweeter ("Got my card!!" was a simple tweet just after his finish), and currently you can go to his website to qualify to try and win his Titleist driver. PHOTO: Steve Spatafor, 2009 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.