Las Vegas, Nevada (October 23, 2010)–Rounds of 62 seem to just have a way of popping up during Las Vegas' PGA Tour event, the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. During the second round, 2009 champ Martin Laird and Ryuji Imada both recorded rounds of 9-under par over the 18 holes of Las Vegas golf course TPC Summerlin. Imada is one shot in back of leader Jonathan Byrd (he could only manage a 63 for a two day total of -13 …) while Laird will start the weekend two shots back. But the action might be as hot off the course as it is on the course because tournament organizers, who have lobbied for a date within the FedEx Cup schedule, just might be getting closer to that reality. LIVE SCORING.–By Brian Hurlburt.
While there has been no official announcement, many who are in the know speculate that the Las Vegas tournament will move from the Fall Series to a date within the FedEx Cup schedule by 2012, some even going out a limb and believing it could happen as early as 2011. One thing that is known for certain is that the Shriners organization has officially confirmed with PGA Tour management that they will do whatever is needed to make a move happen. The Shriners organization has ensured that the extra money that will be needed to bump the purse to FedEx Cup levels and for network television exposure will be there. The event serves as a huge public relations vehicle for the group in addition to being positioned as a way to help generate funds that can offset an annual budget of $749 that is needed to operate 22 hospitals across the country.
"We are the title, and we are the host, and we're proud of it," Shriners Board Tournament Chairman Gary Dunwoody has said about their commitment to Las Vegas and the tournament. "We have in our last board meeting last year, signed a contract to go to the next level to the FedEx Tour when it becomes available." The Shriners have also been on record as raving about Las Vegas as a wonderful destination, and plans continually are in progress to grow the Shriners presence in Las Vegas during the tournament, whether it be by having more volunteers from the organization involved in tournament operations, and/or organizing major Shriners meetings around the golf tournament.
So while the action behind-the-scenes is apparently fluid, the play on the course is living up to Las Vegas standards. Over the years, the Las Vegas event has been known as a birdie barrage, and that continues to be the case in 2010. Imada used eight birdies and an eagle during his round of 62 while Laird had nine birdies–including five in a row and six in seven holes on the back nine–during his round. "I love this," said Larid. I love this golf course because it's kind of a fun tournament to come and you know you gotta make a lot of birdies and it's not hacking up deep roughs like we do a lot of the year. And it's just a fun week, kind of relaxed week, and hopefully I keep it up this weekend." Laird parlayed his win in 2009 into an appearance in the FedEx Cup playoffs in 2010. He finished 11th in the final standings.
Las Vegas resident Alex Prugh sits in a tie for third place heading into the weekend and recorded six birdies and an eagle en route to a second round 64. Prugh moved to the Las Vegas area a couple years ago on the advice of former UNLV golfer and Las Vegas resident Andres Gonzales. Prugh started his round on the 10th hole, and was 7-under par through his first seven holes, all that action happening very early in the morning. "It's a great start," Prugh said following his round. "Obviously the ham‑and‑cheese omelette the chef made me was the key or something like that, I guess, but I made a bunch of great putts early on, and there aren't a whole lot of times you're 7‑under through seven." Prugh was also glad to take advantage of the comforts of home, including spending time with Katie, his wife. "It's great sleeping in our own bed, and love sleeping next to her, too, so it's great," said Prugh about his new hometown. Prugh leads the large group of golfers who have strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses who are playing in the event.
But there are several other golfers who are playing well and have put themselves in contention heading into the weekend. There are four Las Vegas residents who are just three shots off the lead heading into Sunday. Former UNLV golfer Chad Campbell, Summerlin roommates Cameron Tringale and Rickie Fowler, and Henderson's Nick Watney. Watney is playing well and keeping an even keel despite an impending marriage that happens next week. Watney and his longtime girlfriend, Amber, are tieing the knot in Cozumel. She is the neice of PGA Tour golfer Omar Uresti who is playing this week but missed the cut.
Tringale and Fowler moved to Las Vegas about a year ago, and both would love to win in Las Vegas, but a victory in this tournament could be biggest for Campbell, who lost here in a playoff in 2009, and was a two-time All-American at UNLV under head coach Dwaine Knight. Knight has been seen this week working with Campbell on the practice putting green. Other Las Vegas golfers who made the cut are Kevin Na (T20), Chris Riley (T35), Dean Wilson (T47) and Scott Piercy (T47), and Warren Schutte (T67). Those missing the cut were John Mallinger, Bill Lunde, Charley Hoffman, Alex Cejka, Ernie Gonzales, and Eddie Olson.