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Tano Goya gets lucky in Las Vegas with last minute tee time in trainers

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Tano Goya is making the most of just his third start on the PGA Tour in nearly a decade, despite having two minutes notice and teeing off in his tennis shoes.

The Argentinian earned his first Tour card by finishing in the top 50 at the end of the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season. That exemption status put him toward the bottom of the pecking order at the start of the new Tour season last month, and in the case of this week’s Shriners Children’s Open, on the alternate list.

That was, until Thursday morning.

“It was weird because I had the feeling that I was going to get in somehow,” Goya said Thursday, following a 3-under 68 at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.

Full-field scores from the Shriners Children’s Open

Rewind a few hours earlier and the 34-year-old was arriving to the course at 5:30 a.m., just hoping someone would withdraw. He warmed up at the track while his caddie prowled the player areas, looking for signs of anything amiss.

“All of a sudden, my caddie called me saying Peter Malnati was like ten minutes ago and couldn't see him,” the rookie recalled.

Just in case, he started getting ready, and sure enough, Malnati did withdraw. Tour officials called Goya at 7 a.m. with a 7:02 a.m. tee time on the 10th hole.

“I hit the first tee shot [in] my trainers,” Goya said. “It was funny -- no practice at all or anything.”

After putting on his golf shoes in the middle of the par-4 10th, the seven-time international winner was one off the lead following three birdies on the back nine. He would add a birdie and a bogey on the front, taking advantage of all three par 5s to position himself around the top 20 ahead of Round 2.

Preparation was key to Goya’s solid opening round. Even though he didn’t know whether he would get to play or not, he practiced as usual Tuesday and Wednesday with the hope that he’d get lucky.

Leave it to Vegas to deliver.