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Monday, July 20, 2020

Much is to be determined for Las Vegas’ PGA Tour event Oct. 5-11, but a strong foundation has been built

Shriners Open 2020!

Much is to be determined for Las Vegas’ PGA Tour event Oct. 5-11, but a strong foundation has been built


Story by Brian Hurlburt, Las Vegas Golf Insider


Shriners Hospitals for Children Open executive director Patrick Lindsey still vividly remembers watching the throng of golf fans following the leaders when they encircled TPC Summerlin’s finishing holes as the 2019 tournament drew to a close. It was a banner year by just about any measurement. Attendance was 72,842, up from 55,000 in 2018 and nearly tripled over a few-year period, and the field was the strongest since 2003. Among those playing was world no. 1 Brooks Koepka and 18 of the other top 50 players in the world, including Phil Mickelson.


Lindsey couldn’t wait until 2020…


However, with an evolving Covid-19 pandemic, social unrest, and other issues challenging Las Vegas and society at large, Lindsey has come to grips that this year will be different; but he and his team are steadfastly creating plans to make the best of it. “Building confidence” will be vital for success, and Lindsey is confident the new plans will continue the event’s resurgence from years of low turnouts and less-than-exciting fields.


The PGA Tour canceled or postponed several tournaments earlier this year, but as of July 1, the Shriners Open remained unchanged and is planned for October 5-11 at TPC Summerlin. The following is a recent Q & A with Lindsey as he took a break from his daily and weekly briefings and planning sessions.


Las Vegas Golf & Leisure: What is the first thing that comes to your mind about Shriners Open 2020, some four months prior to the event?


Patrick Lindsey: It’s going to be a new challenge, and that is what it's all about right now. But it's also an opportunity for us to make a couple of changes that we have wanted to implement even before the pandemic. Even though we're still several months away, we know it's going to be different, but we're also optimistic about being able to put on a quality event. We are trying to overcome and figure out what is the best plan to put in place moving forward for our players, sponsors, spectators, volunteers, and clients. I do know that we are going to make the best of it, no matter what.


LVGL: What is the overriding message right now that you want to send to all involved?


PL: It is definitely that we want to build confidence with everyone and earn their trust that we will have the best plan under guidelines in place by the government in October. Also, we want to be a reason that the community gathers again this fall, and a reason for people to come out and enjoy golf outdoors with great weather. We will be following all protocols, and we want everyone to know that we're going to have a safe environment.


Also, the reason we do this is to support and raise awareness for the Shriners Hospitals and the important work they do. “We want everyone to remember the very important mission of the Shriners Hospitals, our title sponsor. They are dedicated to provide the highest quality care to children with neuromusculoskeletal conditions, burn injuries, and other special healthcare needs within a compassionate, family-centered, and collaborative care environment. Plus, to provide for the education of physicians and other healthcare professionals, and also to conduct research to discover new knowledge that improves the quality of care and quality of life for children and families.


To quote from their official statement, “This mission is carried out without regard to race, color, creed, sex or sect, disability, national origin, or ability of a patient or family to pay.”


LVGL: Besides the pandemic, there are also societal justice issues being protested. What is the statement from the Shriners Open about this?


PL: We're keeping all of that top of mind just as the PGA TOUR is. We take direction from Commissioner Jay Monaghan, and he and the PGA TOUR are taking it very seriously. Early on, they had a moment of silence to honor the victims and also bring awareness to it. The commissioner also had a very nice conversation with Harold Varner III, and I know the PGA TOUR will continue to support in ways they believe appropriate. I think it's important for all of us on the PGA TOUR and all of the events to do something together so that we have the same message. I know the Shriner’s Hospitals wants to support this message as well.


LVGL: The question everyone wants to know—and it is probably difficult to answer as of July 1—but will there be fans allowed?


PL: Since our event isn’t until October, there are a lot of things that can happen between now and then, so it is difficult to predict that answer on a daily and weekly basis. However, we are currently planning to have fans in attendance, and we are thrilled about that because the Las Vegas community has really started to embrace and support us. For sure, it will be different from 2019, from only having digital tickets with our SeatGeek partner, to changing our main entrance so social distancing protocols are followed, to featuring open-air skybox areas. Plus, there will be other measures implemented to ensure the safety of all involved. As I said earlier, we want to build confidence with everyone, and we will do that.


LVGL: What are your expectations of field quality?


PL: We have focused intently over the last several years in building relationships with the world’s best players, and 2019 really showed the rewards of those efforts. It is also important to note that we are still seeing our efforts of two years ago being rewarded. Plus, with each year that goes by, our base of talent improves with our high-quality champions and also our expanding list of Las Vegas-based players. Our recent champion’s list of Las Vegas’ Kevin Na twice, Webb Simpson, Patrick Cantlay, and Bryson DeChambeau is very strong. Because of that, other top players want to play here because when a field is strong, more world rankings points are available. We are confident of another stellar field also because of where we fall on the schedule after a major and the Ryder Cup, and before the Asian swing and the Masters. We could have a strong international presence, and I think the top American players will probably be reluctant to travel to Asia. We also have an amazing host city to attract players, and a lot of hotel partners that continually step up and help. That is huge for us, and we appreciate it.


LVGL: How does having a local champion like Kevin Na benefit the event?


PL: It really means a lot and is another great way to tie-in with the community. Before I got here a few years ago, I think there was a challenge in connecting our tournament with the community. Having Kevin, a local who lives in Southern Highlands, helps further cement our ties to the community. He recently did a video for us to honor Southern Nevada high school graduates and we know as we get closer, he will help with media and other requests. He will be an important ally to help us connect with the community.

Ticket and other info: ShrinersHospitalsforChildrenOpen.com

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