Las Vegas and TPC Summerlin play host to the PGA Tour's 2013 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open this week -- and, quite frankly, there may not be a better course on Tour for players to take a gamble.
Birdies, birdies, birdies. You've got to put in all the blue chips, take chances and go for it all if you're going to have any chance to win at TPC Summerlin where the winning scores are frequently 20 under or better -- over 72 holes!
It's definitely fitting for a city that's all about action.
Before the tournament teed off on Thursday morning, we had a chat with TPC Summerlin PGA Head Professional Mike Messner. Messner talked about the tournament's extra special defending champion, why the course yields so many birdies and more.
PGA.com: Your defending champion is former UNLV star Ryan Moore. How nice was it to have a winner with that local connection to Las Vegas?
Messner: It's always exciting to see former Runnin' Rebels perform at a high level on such a grand stage, especially when doing so in record fashion as Ryan did last year. Most readers may not know that Ryan was only the second champion with local ties in the tournament's 30-year history and I think that's a fantastic story for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, the UNLV golf program and the city of Las Vegas. He's been a great representative as our current and defending champion and with 10 players in the field with local ties we hope to keep the consecutive winning streak alive.
PGA.com: Rather than an end-of-the-year event, you're now a start-of-the-season event with the new wraparound schedule. What's that like?
Messner: The change in format is definitely exciting for the staff, our sponsor -- the Shriners Hospitals for Children -- and the local charities that benefit from the additional exposure. With FedEx Cup points now offered in the new wraparound season, players have an opportunity to grab a head start in the FedEx Cup points race leading into the calendar year, which creates deeper fields. More than half of the players in our field are Tour winners and seven were members of this year's Presidents Cup, including Assistant Captain Davis Love III. With FedEx Cup points on the line for every event, each of the Tour’s tournament sponsors will benefit.
PGA.com: For those spectators who love watching the top players make birdies and eagles, they'd be hard-pressed to find a more exciting venue for that kind of action than TPC Summerlin. Why are the players able to go so low at TPC Summerlin?
Messner: I completely agree. Reachable par 5s, a drivable par 4 and a golf course immaculately manicured are what lead to low scores year after year. Of course, the PGA Tour Rules officials working in partnership with our Superintendent and his team certainly do a great job in creating a fair test and perfect course conditions for players. Bottom line -- These Guys Are Good!
Here's a look at some memorable moments in the history of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open:
PGA.com: There's an endless list of things to do in and around Las Vegas. What's one thing you'd recommend as a local that most others might not otherwise think of?
Messner: Being limited to one choice is difficult because there is so much to do. Even locals enjoy shows and dining on the strip. The one thing I would recommend though is visiting Red Rock Canyon. For the outdoor enthusiast Red Rock Canyon offers camping, biking trails, 19 hiking trails and great boulders with sheer rock that would challenge the most experienced climber. Surprises are offered on each of the trails including waterfalls, natural springs and panoramic views. It's a great place to spend a couple hours of your day.
PGA.com: Finally, what's a typical tournament week like for you in your capacity as Head Professional?
Messner: Most of my team's preparation and work is done months prior to tournament week. As the Head Professional, tournament week is primarily spent making sure all of that hard work and preparation is well executed so that our sponsor, Tour players, pro-am participants, volunteers and fans enjoy a great experience.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.