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Shriners hope hospitals get boost from Tiger Woods

With Tiger Woods saying he might play competitive golf before the Presidents Cup in November, the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open could get a huge, unexpected boost.

The Shriners Open is scheduled for Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 at TPC Summerlin, the start of the PGA Tour’s Fall Series. The tournament has contacted the tour about Woods possibly playing, though it would mean considerably ramping up resources to accommodate him.

"It would be a wonderful problem to have," tournament director Adam Sperling said of having Woods back in Las Vegas, where he won his first professional tournament, in 1996 at TPC Summerlin and the old Desert Inn Country Club. "Having Tiger at your tournament affects everything, and we would need to be prepared. We would have to bring in much more staff to handle everything from parking to tickets to concessions to marshaling the course to security. The changes would be dramatic."

It’s the kind of headache Sperling can live with. For years, whoever was running the Las Vegas PGA Tour stop would wish they could lure Woods.

When he was the world’s No. 1 golfer and with Las Vegas stuck in the Tour’s Fall Series, there was no chance. But a perfect storm of misfortune surrounding Woods’ game has put TPC Summerlin in play as a possible return for him.

Woods did not qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which begin Thursday. He has plenty of time to work on his game between now and Nov. 17, when the Presidents Cup begins in Australia, and the Shriners Open might fit his schedule.

TPC Summerlin is not a demanding course. It has lots of open space for errant shots and could be the ideal place for Woods to restore confidence in his game.

Also, the presence of the Shriners and their charitable work with children might be enticing to Woods as an image helper. He has raised millions of dollars in Las Vegas for charity over the years through his foundation.

"The timing could be good for us," Sperling said. "We haven’t heard anything as of (Tuesday), and we’ve not spoken to Tiger directly. But we’ve reached out to the Tour, and I know the Shriners are making inquiries as well. I don’t know if Justin has tried to contact Tiger directly or not."

Sperling wouldn’t speculate on the tournament’s chances of getting Woods. There are four possible opportunities, and the other logical place would be the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic from Oct. 20 to 23 in Florida, where Woods lives.

"If he decides to play, I guess our odds are, at worst, 1-in-4," Sperling said. "Every tournament wants to have Tiger play. But Tiger plays where he wants to, so we’ll see what he decides to do. We’d love to have him come back (to Las Vegas), but it’s his call."

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

 

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