UNLV Alumni defend hometown course at Shriners Open
When Charley Hoffman stepped into the first tee box Thursday morning at TPC Summerlin, he was introduced as, "Your Runnin' Rebel, Charley Hoffman!"
The crowd, the largest of the day, erupted in cheers and Hoffman stepped up and crushed a line drive down the fairway -- outdriving Webb Simpson and Davis Love III by 50 yards.
All that was missing was Hey Reb! and some fireworks.
Hoffman, who won a national championship at UNLV in 1998, is one of many former Rebels competing in this week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
His teammate at UNLV, Chad Campbell, and 2005 graduate Ryan Moore joined him on the links to defend their hometown course.
"I have a lot of pride as a Rebel," said Hoffman, who played the round with a scorecard sporting a UNLV logo protruding from his back pocket. "It's a family and I try to represent them the best I can."
Hoffman, Campbell and Moore are no strangers to TPC Summerlin.
"I'm out here all the time," Moore said. "I probably play and practice here more than anywhere in town, so I'm here a lot throughout the year. It might help on the greens with a few reads here and there. I think that's where you can have a little bit of an advantage, but it doesn't matter how comfortable you are on a golf course, you still have to go hit good shots."
Moore, who won the Shriners Open in 2012, started Thursday's round slow -- two over par through 12 holes -- but birdied five of the final six holes to finish three under par and tied for 31st place.
"It's important to me," Moore said. "I get a bunch of friends and family out and it's a tournament that's important to me and I want to play well."
Campbell finished one shot ahead of Moore at four under par, and former Rebel Andres Gonzales finished three over.
Hoffman, who said he has always struggled at the course, had a similar start to this year's tournament. After birdieing the first hole, he faltered down the stretch to a two over par, tying him for 115th out of 142 golfers.
"It's just sort of what I do on this golf course," Hoffman said. "I make sloppy mistakes. I got off to that good start and it would have been nice to keep that momentum going, but I messed up in the middle of the round. This golf course is sort of a thorn in my side."
Hoffman did birdie three of the final four holes to somewhat salvage the day, but he will need to have a monster day today to avoid missing the cut for a third straight year.
"It's always nice to play where you went to college and live, and you'd like to bring a little something better than I brought, but it's obviously nice to be at home," Hoffman said.
While he has struggled on the links, Hoffman has raised nearly $2 million in charity for the community in the eight years he's been running his foundation, which hosts a Pro-Am tournament the week before the Shriners Open.
Hoffman, Moore, Campbell and Gonzales are the only former Rebels competing in this week's tournament, but there are eight UNLV alums currently on the PGA Tour, including Adam Scott who is ranked No. 7 in the world.
"It's great to see," Moore said. "It just shows how great the program is and how great it has been for a long time. To see that many people coming out is good."
With three days to go the Rebels have some work to do if they want to win in Las Vegas, as Rod Pampling is way out in front after shooting 11 under par on Thursday.
Either way the group will continue to bleed scarlet and gray.
"When we are on tour and running around we get dinner here and there and play practice rounds," Hoffman said. "It's nice to have a little fraternity out here on the PGA Tour."
This article was written by Jesse Granger from Las Vegas Sun and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.