Isaiah Salinda is making the most of his opportunity at the Shriners Children’s Open.
The Las Vegas resident was one of four Monday qualifiers to make it into the field, and for a good portion of Saturday, his name was at the top of the leaderboard.
That’s easy to do when you’re shooting an 8-under 63.
Salinda wasn’t even the low man in his twosome. Callum Tarren shot 62, even with a double bogey on the 17th hole. Both stand at 13-under 200, just two shots behind leaders Tom Kim, Lanto Griffin and Adam Hadwin.
“I think right from the start, we started making birdies from the get-go,” Salinda said. “It was nice to see his putts go in and my birdie putts go in, too. The birdies were flying, and we just tried to keep it going.”
This is just the ninth PGA Tour start for Salinda, who grew up in San Francisco, played his college golf at Stanford and had a stellar amateur career. Getting his footing in professional golf has been a slow process, with this year being his first full season on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he made 11 cuts in 21 starts and posted a lone top-10.
He made the move to Las Vegas earlier this year and has been happy with that decision.
“I’m a West Coast guy and wanted to stay on the West Coast, and I know a bunch of the players out here, and I just wanted to be around that better competition to push me and make me better,” the 26-year-old said. “I think it’s paid off, and definitely happy being here having Vegas as my home base now.”
Las Vegas groups
Fans looking to follow local players have certainly gotten help, thanks to the pairings.
The opening two rounds found good friends and former UNLV teammates Harry Hall and Taylor Montgomery joined by Justin Suh for an all-Las Vegas group. Hall then played the third round Saturday with Ryan Moore, another UNLV alum and longtime Las Vegas resident.
Montgomery was excited about the opportunity to play with Hall.
“I wish we could gamble out there,” he joked before the tournament. “I would love some Harry Hall money. It spends really well.”
Flipping the switch
Joel Dahmen made a run up the leaderboard Saturday thanks to a back-nine 30 that featured a pair of birdies and a pair of eagles. But it came with a twist.
Both of the eagles came on par 4s. On No. 12, he holed an 8-iron from 177 yards to what he called a “greasy pin location,” then added a second eagle on No. 15 when he drove the green with a 309-yard tee shot, then made the 16-footer.
The turnaround came after a ho-hum opening 10 holes that included nine pars and a lone birdie.
I told (caddie) Geno (Bonnalie), ‘I’m done; I’m impatient and I’m grumpy,’ and then good things happened,” he said.
Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at email@example.com.