March Madness is not just happening on the basketball court during the NCAA Tournament. There is plenty of excitement in golf as well. Here are some top Vegas golf news, notes and anecdotes:
Tiger enters as favorite
A few months ago, you could bet Tiger Woods to win the 2018 Masters at 100-1. Not so today. According to Westgate sports book golf odds expert Jeff Sherman, Tiger is at 8-1 and ahead of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, who are each 10-1.
“We have already surpassed last year’s Masters handle, which was an all-time tournament record for golf, with more than two weeks remaining,” Sherman said. “Tiger represents our largest liability, which is part of the reason his odds are a little shorter than other golfers with similar course productivity.”
2018 Masters updated
T Woods 8/1
D Johnson 10/1
R McIlroy 10/1
J Thomas 10/1
J Spieth 14/1
J Rose 14/1
J Day 16/1
J Rahm 16/1
R Fowler 18/1
P Mickelson 18/1
P Casey 25/1
B Watson 25/1
H Matsuyama 30/1
S Garcia 30/1
T Fleetwood 30/1
H Stenson 40/1
M Leishman 40/1
P Reed 50/1
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) March 18, 2018
Out of the Park
Bishop Gorman product Inbee Park, the 2004 and 2005 Nevada state champion, won the LPGA Tour Bank of Hope Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix. It was her first victory since the HSBC Women’s Champions last March.
Park ended her 2017 season in August and had pondered retiring to start a family. Those plans have evolved.
“When I was taking the long break [last year], I was thinking, ‘I think I can do this life as well,’” Park told the media following her victory. “… I love the breaks. Just really refreshes me.”
— LPGA (@LPGA) March 19, 2018
Hahn makes LPGA debut
Green Valley product Jennifer Hahn also played in Phoenix and made her LPGA Tour debut as a sponsor exemption. Prior to the tournament, she threw out the first pitch of a Royals and Padres spring training game.
“It was an awesome week,” Hahn said. “Unfortunately, my game wasn’t as sharp as I wanted, and I ended up shooting even par both days and missed the cut by one. I feel really confident for this season and it was a great experience for me.”
Her next event is the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii starting April 11.
Kevin Na returns
Las Vegas resident Kevin Na was back in action at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida after withdrawing from the Valspar Championship the week prior with a neck injury. He finished tied for 36th and is 49th in the FedEx Cup rankings.
Na was supported by a group of friends wearing t-shirts with slogans such as, “Miss the cut? Naaaaa!” and “Kevin Na: worth the wait!”
A.J. McInerney, a Coronado and UNLV product who escaped injury during the 1 October shooting, played at Bay Hill on a sponsor’s exemption. He finished 2 over par and missed the cut.
The final-round pairing of former Rebels Ryan Moore and Charley Hoffman at Bay Hill caught the eye of UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois, who on Sunday morning tweeted, “I know what I am doing today at 11 AM … let’s go. #FinishLikeARebel.”
Moore won the battle of UNLV alums with a round of 71 to finish T5. Hoffman shot 74 and finished T14.
— DR_Francois (@DRFrancois1) March 18, 2018
Support junior golf
The Nevada Big Give is Thursday and the Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association is seeking donations. The organization offers affordable golf to Southern Nevada youth including learn-to-golf clinics and a college prep tour. Go to NVbiggive.org.
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 email@example.com or @LVGolfInsider.
Saturday, Sunday: SNJGA IMG World Qualifier (9-14), Highland Falls
Friday-Sunday: UNLV Women’s Golf, PING/ASU Invite, Scottsdale, Arizona
March 28, 29: SNJGA IMG World Qualifier (15-18), Highland Falls
March 29-31: UNLV Men’s Golf, The Goodwin, San Francisco
April 8-10: UNLV Women’s Golf, Silverado Showdown, Napa, Calif.
April 9: SNGA Short Game Championship, Desert Willow
April 14, 15: UNLV Men’s Golf, The Thunderbird, Phoenix
April 17: SNGA Tour, NV State Qualifier, Aliante
April 17: UNLV Football Foundation Tournament, Spanish Trail
April 18-21: Derek Jeter Celebrity Invitational, Shadow Creek
April 28, 29: SNGA Nye County Championship, Mountain Falls
April 28, 29: RecruitLook Sunrise Junior Championship, Club at Sunrise
April 29, 30: Wish Upon a Par 24 Hour Marathon, Angel Park Cloud Nine
May 5: Reflection Bay AJGA Qualifier, Reflection Bay
International Federation of PGA Tours
What: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
When: Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, 7-11 a.m. (Golf Channel), 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (KSNV-3). Sunday, 7-11 a.m. (Golf Channel), noon-4 p.m. (KSNV-3).
Where: Austin Country Club, Austin, Texas.
Purse: $10 million (winner’s share, $1.7 million).
Defending champion: Dustin Johnson.
What: Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
When: Wednesday, Thursday, 7:30-10:30 a.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (Golf Channel). Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (Golf Channel).
Where: Corales Puntacana Resort & Club, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Purse: $3 million (winner’s share, $540,000).
Defending champion: New tournament.
What: Kia Classic.
When: Thursday, Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, Sunday, 4-6 p.m. (Golf Channel).
Where: Aviara Golf Club, Carlsbad, Calif.
Purse: $1.8 million (winner’s share, $270,000).
Defending champion: Mirim Lee.
PGA Tour Champions
What: Rapiscan Systems Classic.
When: Friday, 7:30-9:30 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, Sunday, 2-4 p.m. (Golf Channel).
Where: Fallen Oak Golf Club, Biloxi, Miss.
Purse: $1.6 million (winner’s share, $240,000).
Defending champion: Miguel Angel Jimenez.
The Associated Press