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Shriners Open, UFC pull no punches to attract quality field

If the 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open was a UFC bout, it would have earned fight of the night.

It was a breakout year in attendance and field strength, and according to tournament executive director Patrick Lindsey, the 2019 rendition is tracking even better.

The Shriners is Oct. 3-6 at TPC Summerlin and UFC president Dana White is helping to promote the tournament.

Lindsey recently returned from the Tour Championship at Eastlake in Atlanta where he hand-delivered the 30 players a UFC gift pack that included a personal letter from White and served as a Shriners invitation. In 2018, each participant received a Vegas Golden Knights jersey.

“Dana wrote about how much our community and Shriners Hospitals would love for them to play and offered use of the UFC training facility,” Lindsey said. “It’s a lot of fun and the players tell me how much they loved it. The special invitations also allow us to spread the message about how Las Vegas is now a sports mecca. The PGA Tour and the players are a part of that.

“In 2018, eight of the top 30 players from the Tour Championship played and this year I believe about half of the Tour Championship field will play. We should also have about half of the top 25 players in the world plus a strong presence from the President’s Cup teams. I also expect several international players.”

Bryson DeChambeau, last year’s champ, hasn’t officially committed, but is expected to play as is Tony Finau. Official commits include 2017 Shriners champion Patrick Cantlay, Brandt Snedeker and international President’s Cup team members Louis Oosthuizen, Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith.

A strong local contingent includes Ryan Moore (2012 champion), Kevin Na (2011 champion), Wyndham Clark, Charley Hoffman, Aaron Wise (2018 rookie of the year) and Nick Watney.

Rising star Mathew Wolff, 20, won his third professional start and is officially committed to the Shriners and two other young standouts are strong possibilities. Colin Marikawa, 22, is a new Vegas resident and won his sixth tour start, and Viktor Hovland, 21, recently earned PGA Tour status via the Korn Ferry Tour and has earned $678,035 in five PGA Tour starts.

Additional high-level player commitments are expected this week and next.

Weekly deal

The Paiute golf player’s card that offers lowest rates throughout 2019-20 goes on sale Sunday. Purchase by Sept. 30 and receive 20 percent of price as a credit.

Hall of fame weekend

Tickets are available at LasVegasGolfHOF.com for Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame weekend Sept. 27-28 at Spanish Trail and TPC Summerlin. The 2019 class is Kim Dolan, Garry Goett, Christina Hixson, Sue May and Don Welch.

Family, friends celebrate

The UNLV Professional Golf Management program “Friends and Family” event was at Cascata and Butch Harmon was the keynote speaker. Alum Reese McCall won the “Rebel Pride” award. McCall is assistant manager at Golf Club of Houston, home of the PGA Tour’s Houston Open, which is honoring Harmon Oct. 10-13.

The golf notebook appears Wednesdays. 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 bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider.

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