As former UNLV golfer A.J. McInerney told it, even though his second round Friday was suspended by darkness with him at 1 under par through 14 holes and two shots within the cut line, he had no idea what score he needed to make the cut in his first PGA Tour event.
“I didn’t even look at (scores),” McInerney said. “I asked my caddie when I was sitting down at dinner what the cut line was and he said, ‘Don’t even worry about it. I will tell you what you need to do.’”
On Saturday morning, McInerney played his final four holes of his second round in par to make the cut by two shots in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin. The achievement comes almost five weeks after he and his girlfriend survived the mass shooting on the Strip as they attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
“I felt a little bit calmer out there today and took advantage early of the calm winds, and then the winds picked up for us on the front side (his back nine in the third round),” McInerney said. “I really didn’t hit a lot of bad shots. I kind of misjudged the wind on hole 3 (his 12th) and again on 5 and made a double bogey.”
McInerney shot 4-under 32 on his front nine, but played the back nine in 3-over 38. He is at 2-under 211 entering the final round, seven strokes off the lead.
“It’s been amazing, and I am so thankful for this opportunity,” McInerney said. “(On Sunday) I just want to stay in the moment, take it one shot at a time and have fun and enjoy this crowd. Everybody out here this week saying, ‘Go A.J.,’ and ‘Vegas Strong’ has been really special.”
Hoffman can’t fathom survivor thoughts
Charley Hoffman began the week by hosting his annual foundation pro-am, then announced he would donate his Shriners Open earnings to the Direct Impact Fund. Hoffman shot par 71 in the third round and is at 3-under 210 for the tournament.
He had expectations about what it would be like to play in front of the Las Vegas community almost five weeks after the mass shooting, but gained a different perspective.
“I can’t believe how much the people who survived have been affected by this,” Hoffman said. “That didn’t really register until I started talking to them, so anything I can do.
“I met a guy named Aaron, who played in my foundation event, and he told me about how he loaded people in the back of his truck and tried to get them to safety. I learned just how hard it has hurt him. He can’t think, can’t sleep, can’t do anything normal anymore. I can’t fathom what is going on in his head. Obviously, we know the people that died and those victims, and that’s devastating, but learning about the people who survived has hit me more than I thought.”
Stars on, off course
Ryan Moore, who is at 2-under 211, enjoyed the fan interaction but struggled with his swing.
“I’ve kind of scraped it around, and it hasn’t been anything too pretty,” Moore said on the way to the practice range after the third round. “I can’t really put my finger on what’s not clicking, but hopefully I’ll figure it out here in the next hour.”
Other players with Las Vegas ties: Scott Piercy, 2 under; Alex Cejka, 1 under; Alex Kang, 1 over; Chad Campbell, 5 over.
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.