Hang with PGA Tour pros at TPC Las Vegas

By Travel ArticlesDecember 17, 2012, 5:00 am

LAS VEGAS -- The private TPC Summerlin might seem to be more prestigious than TPC Las Vegas, its public neighbor just minutes from the Strip.

TPC Summerlin has hosted the PGA Tour's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open exclusively since 2007. Golf Digest ranks TPC Summerlin eighth among the top 25 golf courses in Las Vegas. TPC Las Vegas is 11th.

The funny thing is, Tour pros who live in Las Vegas tend to hang out more at the TPC Las Vegas, a former host of both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour. Charlie Hoffman can walk to the private range at TPC Las Vegas from his house. Ryan Moore, Dean Wilson, Alex Cejka and Kevin Na regularly use the facility as well.

'Having the local PGA Tour players really sets us apart,' TPC Las Vegas General Manager Dan Hammell said. 'You could run into any of those guys in the grill or locker room or practice tee. That's neat for the guests and staff. Those guys are here all the time.'

The two TPC clubs are less than two miles apart, which causes confusion from time to time. Hammell said golfers often check in for tee times at one when they should be playing the other.

'Guests will just say 'TPC' and the cab drivers just don't know where to drop them off,' Hammell said.

Golfers who end up at TPC Las Vegas tend to leave inspired.

TPC Las Vegas: The course

With only 110 acres of irrigated turf, the TPC Las Vegas embodies target desert golf.

Hammell said his 7,080-yard, par-71 design played a full shot tougher than the TPC Summerlin when the two were co-hosts of a Las Vegas PGA Tour event (which has had several different names and sponsors) from 2001-2007. A slew of Tour pros -- John Daly, Steve Jones, Lee Janzen, Joel Edwards, Craig Barlow, Dan Forsman, Jay Williamson and Ryan Palmer -- share the course record with a 62.

The theme of the place reveals itself on the second tee box. An island green ringed by gigantic boulders sits in a box canyon, built up from the desert floor. It's a striking setting that illustrates the rugged terrain that architect Bobby Weed, with an assist from Raymond Hearn, had to tame before its opening in 1996.

Another canyon takes the challenge to a whole new level on the back nine. The 12th green is a second island par 3 surrounded by untamed earth. The demanding carries from the blue tees of the par 4s at No. 13 and No. 14 -- nicknamed 'Death Valley' and 'Gorge-ous' -- are two of most exciting tee shots in the region. The 612-yard par 5 at No. 15 is the layout's longest hole, ending at a green hugging the canyon rim.

'It is a natural [desert] wash,' Hammell said. 'When it rains in the mountains, we get a lot of water flowing through there. That's kind of neat. It definitely puts a premium on the tee ball.'

Water makes a surprise appearance to the left of the final green, a long par 4.

Tyler Volk, a resident of Vancouver visiting with a group of Canadians this fall, called TPC Las Vegas one of his three favorite golf courses in Las Vegas.

'It's fair but still challenging,' he said. 'It's got great greens. They are not too undulating. It's in great condition.'

TPC Las Vegas: The verdict

By tossing in an excellent Tour Academy and a fine JW Marriott right across the street, TPC Las Vegas is fully stocked for one of the best stay-and-play golf vacations in the high Nevada desert. I didn't see a PGA Tour pro the day I visited, but a celebrity sighting would surely take the experience up a notch.

Getty Images

Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

Getty Images

Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

Getty Images

Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

Getty Images

Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”