Las Vegas, Nevada (October 24, 2010)–Up until Jim Furyk won the FedEx Cup title and the Tour Championship, he was scheduled to play in Las Vegas' PGA Tour event, the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. But he withdrew, leaving the door even wider open for the other golfers playing in Las Vegas. You see, when Furyk plays Las Vegas, he cashes big checks, including three first-place checks and others combined to total more than $2.2 million is earnings in Las Vegas alone. But entering the final round, defending champ Martin Laird looks to join Furyk as the only player to ever win this event more than once. —By Brian Hurlburt.
Laird entered the final-round at 19-under par and one shot in the clear of Jonathan Byrd, and with his eyes directly on a repeat, even if he thinks the pressure won't be as bad as in 2009 when he just grasping to keep his full-time status on the PGA Tour. "It's completely different because last year (because) it was probably the best chance I've had to date to win a tournament, and I was 134th or something on the Money List," Laird, who finished 11th on the 2010 FedEx Cup money list, said following the round. "So there was a lot more pressure on me last year than this year. But I'll probably still be a little nervous out there at the start. I think anyone who has the lead is. But definitely a little more relaxed week than last year knowing that I've had a good year so far and I don't have to worry about playing to keep my card."
Heading into the final round, there are 15 golfers within six shots of Laird, including at least three golfers with strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses. The Las Vegas Golf Region boasts more than 30 pros who play the major tours who have strong ties to the area's golf courses. The three within striking distance on Sunday are residents Nick Watney, Rickie Fowler and Cameron Tringale. Watney sits in a tie for 7th at -14 while Tringale and Fowler, who share a condo in Summerlin, were in a tie 11th at -13. There are also many notable Las Vegas golf courses in the Las Vegas Golf Region including Rhodes Ranch Golf Club, 18 holes of Ted Robinson golf. Click now to view the official website of Las Vegas' Rhodes Ranch Golf Club where you can reserve your Las Vegas golf tee times.
in 2009, Laird defeated from Las Vegas champ George McNeil and former UNLV golf All-American Chad Campbell in a playoff to win his first PGA Tour event. But even in Laird claims the title today, he will still have a long way to go to match Furyk's dominance in Las Vegas. Furyk won the Las Vegas event in 1995, and then again in 1998 and 1999. In all, he has played in Las Vegas 14 times, missing the cut just once and posting seven top 10 finishes and a total of 12 finishes in the top 20. His total earnings in Las Vegas are $2,290,018.75.
"I was excited to get back," Laird said about playing and defending in Las Vegas. "So far the last couple days obviously have been very nice. Holed a lot of putts the last couple days. The first round I probably hit it just as good if not better than these last two days and just made absolutely nothing. But it's been a good three days, and even after only shooting 2-under the first day, I was pretty confident that I could post three low ones in a row to get back in contention. I maybe didn't think I'd post 17-under the next two rounds, but I'm pleased obviously where I am and I'm looking forward to tomorrow." Laird is paired with Byrd in the final group.
Many of the other Las Vegas golfers who made the cut haven't faired as well as Watney, Fowler, and Tringale, even after promising starts to the week. Resident Alex Prugh was among the leaders but a 70 on Saturday put him all the way back into a tie for 16th heading into Sunday. Campbell was also putting together a solid tournament but struggled to a one-over par 72 and fell into a tie for 37th. Fellow Rebel Chris Riley was also playing decently and also recorded a 73 on Saturday to fall way down the leaderboard. Timberlake/Laird photo: Steve Spatafore.