Las Vegas, Nevada (January 7, 2012)–Longtime Las Vegas golf writer Bill Bowman is on location for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. But he isn't the only person with strong ties to the Las Vegas Golf Region enjoying the sun and breezes of the islands. Las Vegas PGA Tour stars Nick Watney, Kevin Na, and Scott Piercy are playing in the tournament due to having won at least one PGA Tour event in 2011. –-By Brian Hurlburt, quotes provided by Bill Bowman.
Piercy is a Las Vegas native who has a big personality. He earned a trip to Hawaii when he won the 2011 Reno-Tahoe Open, his first-ever PGA Tour victory. Piercy has also won two Nationwide Tour events and was the champ of the made-for-TV Ultimate Game at Wynn Las Vegas several years ago. He cashed a $2 million check for he and his investors after that victory.
"The win last year really freed me up and let me play my game instead of playing catchup," said Piercy following his first career round at the T.O.C. Piercy was struggling to keep his Tour card prior to the break through in Reno. "I haven't played competively in about three months and I wasn't real comfortable early today ( he was +3 early in the round). But once I got my bearings I came back real well. This tournament is free money, and we want a lot of it." Piercy finished at 1-under par for the round and was all smiles.
Na's year was highlighted by a victory at Las Vegas' PGA Tour event. Na became the first resident of Las Vegas to win the hometown tournament. It was the 29th time the event was being played. "It's definitely nice to be here," said Na after firing an even par round of 73 over the 18 holes of the Plantation Course at Kapalua. "It was great to win in Vegas to end the year. The win took care of a lot of things and let me start the year here. Plus it was great to win in front of the hometown fans."
Both Na and Piercy are TPC Las Vegas–and the private TPC Summerlin–regulars while Watney is a regular at Las Vegas' Rio Secco Golf Club, home of the Butch Harmon School of Golf. Watney moved to the Las Vegas Golf Region a few years ago to be closer to Harmon. "Las Vegas and Maui are pretty much the top of the list for places to play golf, that's for sure," said Watney who also finished round one at even par. "One of the main draws about playing here is it's a very relaxed place. I love coming here. The main difference between Vegas and here is the topography. Here, every hole goes either up or down. And the views here are pretty amazing." Watney won two times in 2011 and was at the top of the FedEx Cup Points list for much of the season before fading in the playoffs.