Shriners Open tourney director finding it easier second time around

It’s usually easier the second time around. And for Patrick Lindsey, preparing for this year’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open has had fewer surprises and headaches than a year ago.

With this year’s PGA Tour stop in Las Vegas about seven weeks away, Lindsey, the tournament director, said he’s way ahead of things compared to when he came on board in 2015.

“It’s a little bit calmer,” he said Friday. “We’re still grinding hard with sales and getting the course ready. But having been through it once, I’m definitely more comfortable with everything, whether it’s the golf course, dealing with the Shriners or just the city itself.”

This year’s event, scheduled for Nov. 3-6 at TPC Summerlin, will have a larger purse ($6.6 million) and fewer players (132) playing for first prize, which will be $1.4 million.

Because the tournament is being played in November instead of October because of the Olympics and the Ryder Cup, there’s less daylight. If there was a full field of 144, it would almost guarantee some players wouldn’t be able to finish their round on the tournament’s Thursday and Friday.

“It was a hard decision but we really didn’t have much choice given our date on the calendar,” Lindsey said. “It won’t effect us the final two rounds after we’ve made the cut. But Thursday and Friday was definitely a concern.”

Smylie Kaufman is confirmed to be back to defend his title and Graeme McDowell, Hunter Mahan and Ernie Els are among the notable names that have also committed. Lindsey said he is waiting to hear back from Jordan Speith, Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott as well as Rickie Fowler.

“I want us to get the top players,” he said. “Las Vegas wants the top tier competition.”

The Shriners Open was hoping to lure Tiger Woods back to Las Vegas on what will be the 20th anniversary of Woods’ win at TPC Summerlin in 1996. Woods, who has missed a substantial amount of time due to injuries, recently announced he will play next month in Napa, California at the Safeway Open. He is also going to play in Malaysia and Turkey as he has committed to three events.

“We made a hard push,” Lindsey said of trying to get Woods. “If Turkey wasn’t the same week as us, I think we could’ve had him.”

There would have been a sharp spike in attendance had Woods played the Shriners Open. Instead, Lindsey is proceeding with his original plans and the hope is to increase attendance from last year’s 37,500 to 45,000.

The tournament is offering several advance ticket specials including a “buy one get one free” which gets a Saturday $35 ticket purchase a free ticket for Sunday’s final round. All advance ticket specials are available online at shrinershospitalsopen.com.

“We’ve added some fan viewing areas, including along the 18th fairway that we think will add to the experience,” Lindsey said. “Everyone loves The Hill and the viewing area at the 15th green. But we want to provide more spots for the fans to watch.”

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow on Twitter: @stevecarprj

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