By ALAN SNEL
When the sport’s biggest names such as Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson pass over your PGA event, you try your best to create a buzz at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Around noon Tuesday, two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson chatted with reporters at TPC Summerlin where the non-profit Shriners hope to use a PGA event as a platform to raise money for their 22 children hospitals.
It’s purely subjective of course, but the 38-year-old Watson is this week’s biggest name among the 144 PGA players vying for a piece of the $6.8 million.
After Watson talked with writers, local Las Vegan A.J. McInerney shared his story of surviving the mass shooting tragedy at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Strip Oct. 1.
This was McInerney’s first PGA event made possible by a sponsor invitation. But it was hard to escape the dark cloud of the mass shooting that claimed 58 people’s lives and injured more than 500 people. McInerney talked about the trauma and saving lives and the heroic behavior.
McInerney acknowledged the sport’s biggest stars skip the Shriners event. “The timing of the event is tough,” he said.
Dennis Silvers, a golf radio and TV commentator in Las Vegas, spoke with LVSportsBiz.com about some of the issues facing the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
After Watson and McInerney met with reporters, in walked Shane Paterson. Never heard of Paterson? Well, he’s not a golfer.
He was wearing an Elvis outfit and played The King as he strolled the grounds on Tuesday’s picture-perfect afternoon.
The PGA paid Paterson for only two hours, so his pit stop for reporters didn’t last long.
Paterson noted he’s good for corporate bookings and parties, by the way.
“There’s only a few of us who work full-time,” Paterson noted.
Dustin Turner, a PGA Tour producer, was hoping pics of Elvis would make social media.
Well, Elvis did at least make LVSportsBiz.com.
Adam Sperling, the tournament’s executive director, said he’s aiming for 35,000-40,000 fans this week at TPC Summerlin. Event organizers staged flash ticket sales in hopes of drawing traffic to the golf course just north of Summerlin Parkway.
He said a ticket at $35 per day with people 18 and under is a good deal even if the sports market is getting more competitive in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights are on a lengthy road trip, so the local NHL team will not compete against the golf tournament for the local sports dollar.
But Sperling noted some golfers were disappointed to hear the Golden Knights were on an east coast swing because they wanted to attend some VGK games this week.
Even if the Raiders have a home game on the Sunday of the Shriners event, the golf tourney’s biggest day might become Saturday, Sperling said. He noted the tournament is always looking at new ways to attract fans.
“We’re always trying something different,” he said. “It’s Vegas. You can’t ever do something and think it’s enough.”
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com