February 1, 2010–The contingent of Las Vegas PGA Tour pros made another huge impact on the golf scene this week at the Farmers Insurance Open played at famed Torrey Pines. Three players with ties to Las Vegas golf courses finished in the top 10 behind champ Ben Crane—Alex Prugh (T5) and Rickie Fowler (T5), and Nick Watney (T9), the defending champ. But the spotlight may have shined brightest on Phil Mickelson, who made a call of distress to Las Vegas resident Butch Harmon, wound up 19th following a final-round 73. By Bill Bowman.
The Las Vegas Golf Region is home to more than 50 world-class golf courses, including Cascata the sister course to Rio Secco Golf Club where the Butch Harmon School of Golf opens its doors to world-class players like Mickelson, Natalie Gulbis, and Stewart Cink plus everyday golfers looking to improve. Click to view Cascata, a Rees Jones design or to reserve your Las Vegas golf tee times at the official website. Cascata has been highly rated by ZAGAT in a recent survey of golfers.
Harmon left the PGA Show in Orlando after Mickelson's call to catch up with his star pupil before the final round. Despite his long layoff, Mickelson said he and Harmon just worked on a few basics of his swing once Harmon got to Torrey Pines following the unscheduled cross-country journey. “My timing was off a little bit this week,” Mickelson said told the media. “And today’s putts just didn’t quite go in the hole even though they were catching the edges most of the time.”
With Harmon on the scene, Mickelson looks for quick improvement. “A lot of it was timing,” Mickelson said. “A lot of it was just out of whack, a little too long and lazy through the ball and didn’t quite have the speed and momentum going toward the target.” Mickelson has worked with Harmon for a couple years, and has been quoted as saying how important he has for his swing and success in 2009. Mickelson, at times, visits the Harmon School at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco.
Prugh, a Las Vegas resident, again made a final-round flurry to crack the top 10. A six-under-par 66 gave Prugh an 11-under-par total for the event, leaving him feeling very confident after back-to-back top-10 finishes. “Last week I was hitting the ball really well and scrambling when I needed to,” he said about his play at the Bob Hope Classic. “I wasn’t hitting the ball was well this week, but my short game kept me in it.”
Fowler, one of the newest PGA Tour pros to call the Las Vegas Golf Region home, stood out with his fashion flair as well as his golf swing. Fowler finished up with three-straight rounds of 70 to end the event with a four-round total of 277 11-under par. He was paired with Mickelson in the final round. “I got a top-10, so it’s nice way to start the year,” he said. Fowler made a huge impact on the golf scene last fall, including at Las Vegas' PGA Tour event, the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where he tied for 7th. “I played well for a couple of events in the Fall Series last year at Vegas and Scottsdale. This just kind of reminds me that I can go out and win if I put myself in position.” Watney, another Harmon student, carded a final-round four-under-par 68 that also moved him into the top 10.–Bill Bowman is a contributor to GolfLasVegasNow.com and the former Editor of VegasGolfer Magazine, and is a committee member of the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame.