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Thursday, October 25, 2018

36 Years - Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

36 Years

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Story by Bill Bowman


It’s that time of year again: When the PGA TOUR finds itself in the bright spotlights of Las Vegas.

Welcome to the 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. This year’s event, being held for the 36th consecutive year, is October 29 through November 4, 2018 at TPC Summerlin. “This is just a great event if you’re a golf fan,” says Patrick Lindsey, executive director of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. “The tournament features 132 of the best golfers in the world and along with watching great golf, there are also a ton of outside-the-ropes opportunities for fans. We have a great event,” Lindsey says. “The weather is usually ideal and when fans come out, they are guaranteed to see great golf and a lot of drama.”

In the 35 previous years, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open has been the sight of some of the most historic moments on the PGA TOUR. Don’t believe us? Well, here are a few highlights that will jog your memory.

Las Vegas was the first PGA TOUR event to offer a $1,000,000 purse way back in 1984. Denis Watson won $162,000 as the winner. (As a side note, Patrick Cantlay, the 2017 champ, pocketed $1.2 million, while the six players who tied for 10th last year each earned more than $150,000.) 

Then there’s 1996 when a promising young golfer stepped into the winner’s circle on TOUR for the first time right here in Las Vegas. Tiger Woods accepted his first winner’s check ($297,000) and has gone on to set the bar incredibly high when it comes to greatness on TOUR. 

And who can forget Jonathan Byrd’s walk-off hole-in-one in 2010 (yes, it’s been that long)? Byrd beat Martin Laird and Cameron Percy (as well as darkness) in a playoff to win his fourth PGA TOUR title. There’s also the hometown story of Kevin Na winning his first PGA title, hoisting the trophy and cashing the check right here in Vegas in 2011 

And most recently, there’s last year’s event when Cantlay beat Alex Cejka and Whee Kim in a playoff to earn his first PGA TOUR title—the most recent of many who have claimed victory in Las Vegas as their inaugural win on the PGA TOUR.

On the course, TPC Summerlin has been there from the beginning. When the tournament started, it was a 90-hole event that featured three courses in rotation, always centered around TPC Summerlin. Since 2008 when the tournament revamped the format, the 72-hole event has strictly been held at TPC Summerlin.

TPC Summerlin is a Bobby Weed-designed layout that winds over, around and through canyons. The par-71 course reaches 7,255 yards from the tips and features a pair of holes late that can make or break a round.

The driveable par-4 15th and the reachable-in-two par-5 16th give players the option to be aggressive if they need to make up ground in an attempt to move up the leaderboard. These are two of the more impressive risk/reward holes on the PGA TOUR and they come back-to-back. But both are fraught with danger and can see players’ hopes dashed by errant shots—off the tee on No. 15 and into the green on No. 16. 

Adding to the danger level that players face heading home is that water comes into play on the final three holes. It guards the front of the 16th green while the final two holes—the par-3 17th and the par-4 18th--both have a pond on their left side around the green.

These four holes have certainly seen their share of drama—both good and bad—as players test their nerves, accuracy and aggressiveness. “There’s no doubt the tournament can be won or lost over those last four holes,” Lindsey says. “I watched Rickie Fowler make an eagle on the drivable 15th. The par-5 16th is definitely reachable in two with a good drive. The 17th is interesting with the water on the left, and it gets even more so if there’s a little wind. And then there’s the 18th. It’s an incredible finishing hole and they definitely try to sneak that pin as close to the water as they can on Sunday to make it that much more of a challenge.”

While we are talking about this star-studded event, an even more impressive factor is the charity portion. Over the years, the tournament has raised millions of dollars for organizations such as Shriners Hospitals for Children.

So grab the family and check out one of Vegas’s best professional events—live and in person. One of the great things about the tournament is your ticket gets you into the tournament as well as the chance to roam the grounds and find that perfect spot to sit back, enjoy the day and watch the pros in action. “Golf is definitely a unique sport,” Lindsey says. “At most events you have to go to that section, to that row, to that seat. Here, we have acres and acres where people can sit and watch the action.”

That’s done by design. “TPC properties are built for fans and for PGA TOUR events,” Lindsey says. “And that’s what makes it fun here. We have little amphitheaters that are very inviting for the fans.”

There’s more. Guests can also grab a spot on ‘The Hill’ and take advantage of one of the best viewing spots around. ‘The Hill’ is perched above and between the 17th and 18th holes (with added views of the 16th green) and has all the luxuries of your living room with food, beverages and enough TV’s to keep track of the football action on the weekend. “It’s just a great spot to take in all the action on the final three holes,” Lindsey says. “Plus there are lots of food and drink options and TV’s. It’s got a great sports bar feel. 

There you have it…plenty of reasons to take in the action when the PGA TOUR makes its annual stop in Las Vegas this fall.

Oh, and if you need one more reason, Lindsey has you covered.

“The most important thing for us is that all the proceeds—every dollar—from ticket sales to food sales, all goes back to supporting the Shriners Hospitals for Children,” he says. “There’s really not a better cause on the PGA TOUR.” 

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

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