Pebble Beach, California (June 19, 2010)–The place to be at the 2010 US Open Championship at Pebble Beach, besides the media center where the world's best golfers come and speak, is the Lexus hospitality tent, which is lcoated on the 18th fairway within a wedge of the green. That's where Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Sheehan has been emceeing conversations with the biggest names in golf including Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Annika Sorenstam, Raymond Floyd and Mark O' Meara. These hall of famers are relaxed and telling stories to Lexus VIPs which shed new light on golf's biggest moments. But at the same time, some golfers with strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses, continue to play and challenge on the course.–By Brian Hurlburt, Photos courtesy USGA.
Sheehan has been thrilled with the candor his subjects have shown, especially Watson, who made the cut this week. Watson spent about an hour in the tent following his second round. "He discussed, shot-by-shot, the 18th hole from the British Open last summer, and did the same for Turnberry from 1976, the famous 'Duel in the Sun', when he beat Jack Nicklaus. Watson said that he hit his 9-iron approach perfectly on the 18th hole last year at the British, but a gust of wind blew from behind him just as he made contact. His shot barely trickled over the green, leading to a bogey, and Watson thinks the wind was the reason. He wasn't making excuses, but when I asked him, 'Was this a case of the Golf Gods giveth and the Golf Gods taketh away?', he said 'Yes'."
Floyd, who was the PGA Tour design consultant on the TPC Las Vegas, was also very interesting, going into great detail about being an assistant captain at the 2008 Ryder Cup, his memories of playing with the victorious Ken Venturi at the 1964 US Open, and also how he became known as one of the best players around the greens. "I was self taught, and I used to spend hours imagining different shots, and then I would go out and practice them. I would first visualize the shots in my mind, and then go to the course and try to pull them off. Sometimes I would hit the same shot over and over until I got it down. … It also used to make me work harder when I heard players or television announcers talk about how good of a short game I had. That inspired me to live up to the words, and also made me a better and more determined player."
Floyd also credited 2008 US Ryder Cup Captain Paul Azinger for implementing a Navy SEALS pod strategy (pairing 4 players together for the week), and said that he learned to never give up by playing with Venturi way back when. During that round, Venturi was treated for dehydtation but played 36 holes in one day in extreme heat, and won the US Open. Floyd won 22 times on the PGA Tour, and also earned the 1994 Las Vegas Senior Classic title. TPC Las Vegas is a resort Las Vegas golf course. Editor's note: Stick to GolfLasVegasNow.com in the coming week for a story about the Ryder Cup following an exclusive conversation with Paul Azinger where he goes into great detail about the Pod strategy.
O' Meara, who didn't win a major until late in his career, was very candid about the impact that his relationship with Tiger Woods had on his golf game. O' Meara, a 6-time winner at Pebble Beach on the PGA Tour, became good friends with Tiger during the great one's early years. The two played and practiced together, and O' Meara was stunned by Tiger's talent, but more importantly, his work ethic. "Mark said that Tiger used to say, 'Mark, wouldn't it be cool if we competed against each other in the majors?'," said Sheehan. "And Mark said he thought Tiger was just being nice but then he realized that it could happen and he started working harder and taking the game more seriously. He point blank old us, 'I don't win two majors if I didn't meet and start spending a lot of time with Tiger.'" Sheehan also said that O' Meara revealed that he and Tiger haven't spoken much since the world caved in on Woods.
On the course, Las Vegas golfers Craig Barlow and Nick Watney have completed their 3rd rounds. Barlow, who played with Ricky Barnes, fired a 77 and stands at +12, well off the pace. Watney also had a tough round and fired a 77, and is at +11. Alex Cejka, who started the day at even par at +1 through his first four holes, but in the top 10. Also, one correction is that we missed recognizing John Mallinger, who has a home in Las Vegas, as being in the field. Mallinger, who is one of many pros who play and practice at TPC Las Vegas, fired a solid 70 in very tough conditions in round three and is in the clubhouse at +6. Ryan Moore is at +10 after a 75.
The Las Vegas Golf Region is the home to more than 20 tour pros who have strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses. Also, the area is known as the Ultimate Golf Destination due to the excitement of Las Vegas and the depth of golf. There are more than 50 Las Vegas golf courses in the area, including two Las Vegas golf courses managed by OB Sports. The Legacy Golf Club is 18 holes of Arthur Hills golf while Angel Park is billed as the World's Most Complete Golf Experience. There are two 18 hole Arnold Palmer golf courses, a putting course and a lighted par 3 among other amenities.