PGA Tour event’s future gets brighter

Local golf fans can relax. Las Vegas’ PGA Tour stop isn’t leaving town anytime soon.

Thanks to the Shriners Hospital for Children, the Frys.com Open — which has been played at various courses in Las Vegas since 1983 — will remain here through 2012. Shriners Hospital has put up an undisclosed amount of money to keep the tournament in town.

This year’s tournament will be Oct. 11 to 14 at TPC Summerlin and TPC at The Canyons, with a purse of $4 million. However, this is the last year of Fry’s Electronics’ commitment — the event could be looking for yet another title sponsor.

“This is the first time in a long time this tournament has had an opportunity to move forward for an extended period of time,” said tournament chairman Gary Davis. “We’ve talked about making this the last major golf event of the fall.”

While Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson won’t be playing, six former Las Vegas champions will be in the field, including defending champ Troy Matteson. Also committing to the Frys.com Open are John Daly, Lee Janzen, Davis Love III, Jesper Parnevik, Charles Howell III, Chris DiMarco and Lucas Glover.

The field also will have plenty of local ties, with former UNLV stars Chris Riley and Charley Hoffman opting to play, along with Southern Nevada residents Bob May, Craig Barlow, Dean Wilson and Alex Cejka.

Davis said the tournament has been talking to Jim Furyk about playing but has yet to receive a commitment. Furyk is a three-time winner of this event (1995, ’98 and ’99).

In an attempt to lure more than the hard-core golf fan to the event, tournament organizers are planning a party atmosphere with a 22,000 square-foot area at TPC Summerlin they’re calling “The Hill.” Food and beverages will be offered, and TVs will show football games as well as golf.

There also will be views of the three finishing holes — the par-5 No. 16, the par-3 No. 17 and the par-4 18th.

It will require a separate $10 admission to hang out on “The Hill,” but with daily badges going for as little as $5, it is an affordable upgrade.

The tournament also is trying other promotions to attract people. On Oct. 14, a lucky fan will win a Ferrari if a hole-in-one is recorded at No. 17. There will also be free admission for all military personnel during the tournament, with a special Military Appreciation Day on Oct. 13.

Tournament organizers are also hoping the work done by the Shriners will create more support. Though there is no Shriners Hospital in Las Vegas, $11 million has been spent by the group in Las Vegas to assist about 2,500 local children.

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