The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, or what I more loosely call the “Shriners Open,” wrapped up this past weekend and for the first time since the inception of the FedEx Cup, Las Vegas held a FedEx Cup event. I’m sure the folks over at TPC Summerlin were happy as well when they heard that the Vegas stop was going to be FedEx event, but I doubt they were as excited as I was.
In the weeks leading up to the Shriners I was eagerly anticipating the release of the field. Not being a FedEx points event and a stop on the failed “fall series”, even though it’s consider a premier golf destination, just couldn’t attract the crowd gathering names without having a large check to help reel in the big fish, has struggled to say the least. The crowds have been good and the golf has been great with events like the Jonathan Byrd hole in one during the playoff of 2010 that took place in the dark was amazing and Ryan Moore winning last year in his home city and college was a pleasure to see, but it just didn’t feel like big boy golf if you know what I mean.
Much to my delight the field for this Open did not disappoint. With names most any golf fan would recognize, like Webb Simpson, defending champions Ryan Moore, Kevin Na and Jonathan Byrd, fresh off the Presidents Cup teams were Graham DeLaet, Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson and of course, Simpson. There was an influx of players that were certainly crowd pleasing as well, with the likes of Kyle Stanley, Ryo Ishikawa, Jhonattan Vegas, Vijay Singh, David Duval, Russell Henley, Nick Watney and Davis Love III.
All those players in the field were fantastic to see but it was some local flair that really added to some of the excitement for the fans. UNLV graduates like Derek Ernst, Kevin Penner (who had a huge following) Charley Hoffman, Chad Campbell, Bill Lunde, Andres Gonzales and Ryan Moore made the Shriners a UNLV showcase for all the great players that have come through the university.
In the end it was a dominating effort from the start for Webb Simpson. Posting rounds of 64, 63, 67, & 66 (260) Simpson cruised to a 6 shot victory earning a well deserved win in the fresh new season of the FedEx Cup race. Looking over the final results I had to feel for players like Andrew Svoboda, Greg Chalmers, Brendon Todd and Carl Petterson who all shot four rounds in the 60s but finished 10 or 11 shots behind Simpson, which is a testament to how well Simpson played.
All in all I’d have to say it was a successful week for the Vegas PGA event and hopefully in the years to come some of the even bigger names on tour will decide that Vegas is worthy event to play in. I long for the days of 1996 when I followed Tiger around Las Vegas National the buzz a player of that caliber along with players like Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler bring to a tournament is incredible.
Time will tell but for now I’m happy to see the increase of great players being added to field and I’m sure the future is going to be great for Las Vegas and the PGA TOUR.