Dreams and aspirations were prevalent in abundance as golfers teed off on a beautiful sunny day at the famed Lakeshore Golf Club Saturday, September 22nd. Many were playing their first Major (21 rookies); many were striving to make the cut (+17); and a few were realistically trying to WIN a Royal Blue Jacket. Just participating for such a great cause and witnessing the ‘greatest spectacle in golf’ is enough for a great percentage of the field.
Over 70 ball strikers teed off between 8:24am until 1:36pm. At 2:24pm, an emergency Committee huddle increased the cut line to 24 players instead of 21. Controversial, but a group was so bunched and the anxieties on the faces were so plentiful, the Committee made an exception. Will probably never happen again but that is the problem and the beauty of the Committee. It’s flexibility and timeliness on some issues are mostly a positive.
Six rookies made the cut: Scott Diel 62, Grigs Crawford 63, Ryan Tetz 69, Marco Trstenjak 70, Michael Difabbio 71, and Shane Lebow 71.Congratulation on such outstanding shot making! The Committee is still on the record though that no rookie will ever win the Lakeshore again. At the end of the first round, 7-time Champion, Chairman Philip Tom had the lead with a 3 over 57. Right behind was teaching pro Mike O’Donnell and perennial favorite Mike Ryan at +4. Rounding out the top 11 were 6th ranked in the world Thomas Buonomo +6; 2-time Jacket winner Harry Schroeder, scratch golfer Wes Taylor and rookie Diel at +8; and Lakeshore’s 2007 Jean Van de Velde, Karl Mitchell, 2004 winner Frankie D. Larsen, wine enthusiast and plus handicapper Chip Madsen and rookie Crawford +9. Other notables making the cut were; UNLV’s current #1 golfer Harry Hall +12; last years pre tournament favorite Kyle Rogers +13; Phil Rowe UNLV assistant coach and last years rookie of the year +14; (one footnote about Rowe. It comes from a very reliable source that Mr. Rowe in college and on the European tour, had the best short game possibly in the HISTORY of golf…..Other than that….no big deal! It is truly wonderful watching him try and solve the extreme puzzle of the Lakeshore Club. I believe in another year or 2 he will don a Royal Blue Jacket.) and superb rookie masher from North Carolina Ryan Tetz +15. By the way, Tetz got so destroyed from the tips that he did the honorable thing and walked off after 27 holes. He knew it wasn’t his year. It seems we have a few every year exit to speed up play. The Committee thanks you. The stage was again set for a fantastic finish on the back 18 of the Major.
The main question as we headed into the Championship round was: Can anyone keep it together for another 18 holes? After the last group went thru 9, Tom had a 2 shot lead over O’Donnell, +5 vs +7, with Buonomo, H. Schroeder and Jake Peterson a few more back. As usual, there were murmuring of disasters all over the grounds. Some were threatening to take a Caterpillar D8 to the ‘turtle shell’ 5th green. (the Committee loves that green fyi). Amazingly, Murray Hickman Jr. who was in the first group to finish, carded a beautiful 62 to be in the club house with the lead at +25. Shortly thereafter Rowe tied him with a 65 +25. That held up until Peterson painted a masterful 60 and Schroeder 63 got both of them in the clubhouse at +17. They would only need the leaders to stumble back into their range. Only 4 of the 24 who made the cut shot better from the tips than from the regular tees (Peterson, Hickman JR, Rowe and Trstenjak).
After Tom parred the difficult 10 and 11, he went on to birdie 12 and 13. O’Donnell felt he had to start pressing to try and catch the Chairman. After tripling 10, he double bogged 12 and then collapsed with a miserable 10 on the quick #13. It was basically over after 13 as no one pushed back on the Chairman. It was a rare anti-climatic 9 stroke victory for his 8th Championship.