Las Vegas resident Alex Cejka, who shot a 5-under par 66 in Thursday’s first round, was grinding at TPC Summerlin on Wednesday.
No, he wasn’t on the course preparing for the tournament, he was participating in an intense putting contest with his caddie, Redford Bobbitt. Cejka grinned, pumped his fist and raised his putter in celebration.
If a seemingly routine putting match can get Cejka so excited, imagine what he was like while playing for Germany in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I think it was the best sporting event I ever went to and just being around so many athletes from so many different countries was unbelievable,” Cejka said. “It’s different than for us out here. When we miss a cut or do well, we go the following week and do the same thing over again. These athletes prepare four years for their 10-second sprint or whichever event they are in.
“It was incredible to see every emotion. I saw from crying like a baby from super famous people who make millions of dollars, who when they lost their match broke down, to the ultimate joy of winning.”
Cejka stayed in the athlete’s village and immersed himself in the Olympic experience.
“Everybody had different schedules and there were competitions at 7 a.m. and there were competitions at 10 o clock at night so there was always action,” Cejka said. “It was like ants everywhere during the whole day. The dining area was 300 yards long and the biggest buffet I had ever seen.
“We went to so many events. We went to tennis, diving, synchronized swimming, judo, gymnastics, track and field, and a lot of things. We had all-access credentials so we could go anywhere, sit anywhere and watch them warm up. It was interesting to see how everyone prepared, especially the track and field guys with their warm-up suits, head phones and how they warmed up slowly.”
Yes, Cejka also played golf, but his memories about the overall experience will outlast how he fared on the course. He had to be reminded that he finished 21st.
“It’s something I wanted to do at least once in my career,” Cejka said. “I told the team leaders after the Olympics that ‘I am going to be at the next Olympics no matter what, even if it isn’t as an athlete. I will carry the bags, I will hand out the water, I don’t care, I just want to be a part of this again.’”
It’s gotta be the shoes
Former Rebel Charley Hoffman and Footjoy teamed up to create a pair of #VegasStrong shoes that he is wearing. The shoes are being auctioned off online to benefit the Las Vegas Victims Fund and Hoffman said he may try to buy them. Bids can be made at CharleyHoffman.com.
PGA #VegasStrong benefit
First responders can play for free in the Golf Fore Las Vegas tournament to be held Nov. 20 at TPC Las Vegas, a PGA Tour-owned course. The PGA Tour and PGA of America are organizing the event and proceeds benefit the PGA Tour Charities Direct Impact Fund.
“Charley Hoffman has set an amazing example for all of us, immediately offering to use his platform as a PGA TOUR player to help those impacted by the Las Vegas shootings,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “We’re honored to join in his efforts to raise money for the Direct Impact Fund, and are grateful to our friends at the PGA of America for partnering with us as well. We hope the Golf Fore Las Vegas event shines a light on the incredible work of our nation’s first responders.” First responders can register at pgatour.com/GolfForeLasVegas.
Stars on, off course
Shriners national patient ambassadors Isabella Rose and Emily Mellish are experiencing some true Vegas moments. Rose got a private singing lesson from Human Nature on Wednesday and Mellish will get a VIP tour of La Reve at Wynn on Friday.
The golf notebook regularly appears each Thursday but will run each day through Monday this week during the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @LVGolfInsider.