To Play or Not to Play in Vegas


LAS VEGAS, NV -- Guys just arent havin as much fun out here as when I first came out on tour, said 41-year-old Andrew Magee. Twenty years ago havin a good time in Vegas meant wed all go out and wed all drink a lot and stay up to all hours gambling. All the money on tour has taken the fun out.

Well, there were quite a few players today at the TPC at Summerlin who were more bushy-tailed than bright-eyed and certainly a bit lighter in the wallet. So, despite Mr. Magees lament that the old days are gone on tour, there are still plenty of players who are taking advantage of all Sin City has to offer. Well, maybe not all it has to offer.

But Andrew makes a very good point. This weeks purse for the Las Vegas Invitational is $4 million, with $720,000 going to the winner. Twenty years ago on tour it was rare when a purse was as big as this weeks first-place prize.
Its a shame that money has to take the fun out of being on tour, but this week is all business, Magee explains. You cant afford to come out Sunday afternoon with a hangover and maybe blow a couple hundred thousand dollars or the chance to save your card for next year.
No, the days of PGA Tour players partying all night in Vegas disappeared with the Rat Pack.

That is not to say the boys of the 2003 Tour dont have some serious fun in Las Vegas. Oh, yes, I gambled a bit last night. I played some cards and then went to bed, said Vegas first-timer Thomas Levet. I think if you dont gamble in Vegas, youre not human.

I remember one year, said Steve Flesch, I missed the cut and then stayed up all night gambling at Bellagio. I made enough money that night to make the trip here worth while. All of the above was said through a very broad smile.

No one loves a good time more than John Maginnes. Man, my whole life is a gamble. I figure Ive won big just by the fact that Im here. Las Vegas may be the best city in the world. John likes blackjack and craps. Sometimes.

Las Vegas has changed through the years ' succeeding, to a degree, in making itself more of a family and couples destination. Flesch explains this is a perfect week for him and his wife. We just love to stay on the Strip, where all the action is, he said. My wife and I will take in a show, go to a great restaurant this is the week we leave the kids at home and just enjoy ourselves.

Chris DiMarco says his wife likes to roll the rocks a bit and this is one of the most enjoyable weeks on tour for both of them. Chris is not a big-time gambler, though. I hate to lose and then go to bed mad, he said.

Back to the Magee theory: I dont really like to gamble much, said Jim Furyk. Ive got my whole family with me this week, the parents. We just like to all go out to a nice dinner. Jim says hes usually so tired after a long day in the desert heat that all he wants to do in the evening is wash up and then relax.
Oh, by the way: Jim Furyk has won the Las Vegas Invitational three times. Hmmmm.