March 26, 2010–Not a week seemingly goes by without a LPGA Tour or PGA Tour player with strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses making a run at a tournament title. And this week is no different as several Las Vegas golfers are in position to cash big checks including Inbee Park and Kevin Na.–By Brian Hurlburt.
Park fired a first-round 68 at the Kia Classic to be in the the top five, moved to Las Vegas as a youngster, and earned two high school championships while playing for Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High School. She was living in Las Vegas when she turned professional, but then moved away after high school. "I came here (United States) when I was in sixth grade to Florida and I lived there for four or five years, and then moved to Las Vegas for a couple years," Park told the media following her first round. "Now I'm here in L.A. with my coach." Other LPGA Tour golfers with strong ties to Las Vegas playing in the Kia are residents Amy Hung and Natalie Gulbis.
Chong Paek is her coach who works out of the private Westridge Golf Club in La Habra, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Park is basically an honorary member and plays and practices at the course when working with Paek. The Kia Classic is being played at Southern California's La Costa Resort, a club which was built by Las Vegas developers in the 1960s. Those same developers were responsible for Las Vegas Country Club and what is now Las Vegas National Golf Club, two of Las Vegas' most historic golf courses. The Las Vegas Golf Region is home to more than 50 golf courses, and more than 30 tour pros have strong ties to the city. Na is one of many pros who plays and practices at TPC Las Vegas, a PGA Tour-owned resort golf course.
Na, who moved to the Las Vegas in the last couple years, is among a group of leaders at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Through two rounds, Na was 6-under par and well within the top 10 amongst some of the best golfers in the world including Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen, and Davis Love III. Las Vegas resident Butch Harmon, the world's best instructor according to polls in Golf Digest, also revealed that his pupil, Mickelson, recently fired a round of 58 at Fred Couples' Plantation course in Palm Springs. Read more about that here at GolfLasVegasNow.com tomorrow.
"I'm driving the ball well," told the media following his first round. "I was struggling off the tee earlier this year. My putter was good, and I got two Top-10s right off the start, and actually my putter went sour and I started hitting it good, now I think both are coming along great. I think I'm peaking at the right time for the Masters." Other pros with ties to Las Vegas golf courses playing at the Palmer were former UNLV Rebel golfers Ryan Moore and Skip Kendall. Also playing were residents Rickie Fowler and Nick Watney, among others.