February 28, 2010 (Las Vegas, Nevada)–Rickie Fowler is arguably the best young player in golf right now, and he moved to Las Vegas just before the 2009 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Las Vegas' PGA Tour event. If Fowler, who has lost in a playoff and finished second in just a handful of PGA Tour events since turning pro, wins soon, he could become the youngest player to win on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods won the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational at 20. Fowler, who turned 21 in December of '09, was spotted with several of his golf buddies at TPC Las Vegas prior to Phoenix and also plays at Las Vegas golf course TPC Summerlin. —Staff report.
Fowler spent about two weeks in Las Vegas around the time of the Timberlake event, getting to know some of his fellow tour golfers who also call Las Vegas home, all the while racking up solid PGA Tour finishes including a runner-up at the 2010 Waste Management Phoenix Open. "It's been great," Fowler said about Las Vegas during a recent PGA Tour media conference call, while admitting that a busy travel schedule keeps him on the road a lot, leaving only a little time for Las Vegas. "I really haven't been able to spend a whole bunch of time there with being on the road and then having the holiday season spent in California and Florida. But it's been great. A lot of good guys there. I am really enjoying spending time out there at TPC Summerlin. You know, looking forward to having a few weeks off at times, being able to hang out and spend some time there." Fowler is good buddies with Las Vegas resident Scott Piercy, who was in second place entering the final round in Phoenix.
"I practice with Piercy and his caddie (Las Vegas resident Darren Woolard) a little bit, especially when we're both in town," said Fowler. "But, yeah, there's a lot of great guys that are around, a good group that hang out … (Charley) Hoffman, (John) Mallinger, (Bill) Lunde. There's a lot of good guys up there." Not only is Las Vegas home to about 30 pros who have strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses, but the area is home to more than 50 Las Vegas golf courses, including TPC Las Vegas, a resort Las Vegas golf course owned by the PGA Tour that caters to the Las Vegas pros. Just before the Phoenix event, about a dozen Las Vegas pros–including Fowler and Piercy–were spotted playing at the course. Click now to view the official website of TPC Las Vegas, where you can reserve your Las Vegas golf tee times and Las Vegas golf packages.
Fowler had several chances to close the gap on fellow Oklahoma State golfer Huner Mahan coming down the stretch of the Phoenix tournament. Fowler ended up falling a single stroke short to Mahan, but looks to have already accomplished a major goal he had entering the 2010 PGA Tour season. "I think it basically gives me my card back, so that was one of my goals going into the year, and I took care of that pretty quick, which is kind of a relief," Fowler said during his official PGA Tour media press conference following the tournament about his solid result, which earned him more than $600,000 and brings his total to more than $1.3 million in his first 14 PGA Tour tournaments as a professional. "I get to just go play now, which is what we've been doing. But like I said, it moves me up the rankings. A lot of good things will come out of this week." Fowler jumped from 66th on the money list to 14th with more than $875,000 in six tournaments. Fowler spent the night before the final round at the world-famous Crowe's Nest watching OAR.
Several other Las Vegas golfers played at Phoenix and here is a recap of their finishes: Scott Piercy (T8), Ryan Moore (T14), Nick Watney (T24), Chad Campbell (T24), Skip Kendall (T36), and Kevin Na (T53). the following Las Vegas golfers missed the cut: Charley Hoffman, Bill Lunde, John Mallinger, and Alex Cejka. In 2009, Hoffman lost in a playoff to Kenny Perry in Phoenix, but he is a PGA Tour champ, having won the 2007b Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Piercy struggled to a final-round 73 to fall from second to eighth and miss out on his first PGA Tour victory.