While many of the world’s top-ranked golfers played the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin last weekend, “Golf’s 5th Major”, the Lakeshore Open, was decided at Phil Tom’s home in the historic Scotch 80’s neighborhood in the heart of Las Vegas.
Despite the fancy name, “Golf’s 5th Major” (officially trademarked, by the way), Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau nor any other PGA Tour players participated. That didn’t stop Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman from proclaiming last Saturday as Michelle and Phil Tom Day. The two were married following the tournament, which raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
The field included 110 players attempting to tame the difficult course that winds through the front, back and side yards of Tom’s home. The unique course features all par three holes from 10-41 yards and seemingly pencil-thin fairways. The 18 th hole played to an average of 8.67 strokes and overall conditions proved so difficult that first-round leader David Steele withdrew in Round 2 after a 24-over par front nine.
Only one club can be used and the winner walks away with an honorary blue jacket. The charity tournament is all in good fun and no prize money is awarded, but major bragging rights go along with the title.
UNLV men’s assistant golf coach Philip Rowe shot nine over to win and the top rookie performer was former UNLV women’s golfer Liz Prior (+31). Teaching pro Mike O’Donnell was second at 11 over.
With a gentle easterly breeze and temps in the 80s and 90s, the Lakeshore Open commenced from 8:18am to approximately 6pm Saturday, October 1st. 84 players tried their best to tame the untamable along with 22 rookies. Golf's 5th Major lived up to its 'greatest spectacle in golf' reputation more than any year to date.
The first round had 2 huge surprises. Frank Frisbee shot a record score of 4 under and Brian Schmid made the cut for the first time in some 15 tries. Brian's hard work over the last year finally paid off. Of the 22 rookies, 3 made the cut of which 2 are famous from their other professions. Johnathan Wendel, better known as 'Fatal1ty', was the best professional gamer in the world for many years. Also, Fairway Jay is a leading national sports and gaming analyst and a very colorful character. The other rookie to be under the cutline was 18 year old Yahir Saldana, who came in on the exact cutline of +18, All 3 got a fair amount of practice over the last few weeks. The top 9 scores of the first round were: Frisbee -4, Carl Gaglione +1, Van Thomas +3, Jared Smith +5. Mike Ryan +6, Phil Tom +9, Zane Thomas +10, Tex Barch +11 and Matt Tom +11. Little did we know that we were setting up to have the greatest finish of the Lakeshore in its 23 year history.
The Championship round from the back tees had an oddity of both Mike Ryan and Zane Thomas eagling the first hole. In fact, Zane had bookends. He aced both 1 and 18 and did NOT win the tournament. For the second year in a row, the player who dramacally had the best round of the cut makers did not win the tournament. Perennial favorite, Thomas Buonomo, who barely made the cut at +17 shot 1 over from the tips to end up at +18. At the end of 27 holes, Van Thomas was putting on a show. He was 1 under on the front 9 and was 2 over for the tournament. He had a 5 shot lead on the field as Frank Frisbee added 38 and was +7 and Carl Gaglione shot 36 to be at +10. Both players carded an 8 on the front nine; Frank at #4 and Carl at #8. Van's game is truly worth the price of admission to behold. He is so smooth and silky with his left handed pitches. They many times are feathered exactly into the 2 foot wide fairways with the touch of an artist with a skosh of a backspin. He is very close to getting his PGA card and it will be a real joy to watch him play against the best in the world. But as all of you readers know, strange happenings happen, on the last 9 holes of all the 5 Majors!
It was Van's tournament to win at this point. As he passed by the 8 time Chairman around the 10th green, he popped off. He stated that he wanted another match against Phil for the number one ranking in the world as if he had the 23rd Lakeshore 'locked up'. The Chairman just smiled knowing that this 'crow' might come back to haunt Van. Wily veteran Mike Ryan was staying beautifully in contention with a 3 over front nine and playing as good as he ever had on the course. When he parred the 'eyeball' 11th green I really thought he would win the Jacket. The 11th green took much strategy to conquer this year. Many times you have to chip away from the pin to prevent you from falling into the valley of sin. Scores of 7 to 14s were common scorecard marks on the eyeball this year and the Committee loves it. You have to not only think deeply what you are trying to do, but then you have to be incredibly precise on the contact 'marriage'. Beautiful.... to watch the agony or the perfect execution.
The Chairman took a 9 on the eyeball and went to + 19 and was out of contention. Jared Smith, who is a caddy at Augusta National in Georgia, also struggled on the back nine and will have to wait until next year. Van was showing some cracks in the armor as he double bogeyed the eyeball 11th and triple bogeyed the short 13th. When the last group was finished with the 13th, it had tightened up. Van was +7, Frank was stringing some pars to be also at +7, Carl was 5 back at +12 as was Mike. Carl parred 14 and 15 to stay at +12. Frank parred 14 and birdied 15 to go to +6 but Van parred 14 but carded a quad bogey 7 on the difficult dog run of 15 to go to +11. It was Frank's Jacket to win again with 3 holes remaining. The last 3 holes at the Lakeshore are fabulous tests. Both Frank and Van did not get their tee balls out the gate of 16. Frank went right which is big trouble. Van also went right and hit the stanchion of the tennis court net and caromed left to the crease of the tennis court fence and was unplayable. Carl smoothly went down broadway through the gate to settle safely in the 16th fairway. All this commotion caused the group ahead to pause and come back to watch the action. Frank tormented himself to decide to re-tee or play up to see if he could get back to the opening. After much thought he banged it around but salvaged a double bogey 5 to go to 8 over. Van did not re-tee also and after he took an unplayable ended up with a triple bogey 6 to go to 14 over. Carl carded yet another par to stay at +11. Up ahead on 17, Mike Ryan holed out for a par to also stay at +11. Frank was still in command to win his first Major. But then both Frank and Carl did the unthinkable. Carl put his tee ball into the heavy gorse left of the green and Frank hit his tee ball OUT OF BOUNDS. Van calmly put his sphere in the front fairway but far away from the pin. Frank's second tee ball also went into the heavy rough left of the pin. Carl then caught a flier lie and unbelievablely hit it OUT OF BOUNDS and all but ruined his chances of the Royal Blue Jacket. With his double he was now +14. Frank finished out with a triple bogey to go to + 11. And then we heard the roar of the crowd again as Van chipped in for birdie to go to +13 as the group headed to the famed 18th.
Mike Ryan who was at +11 barely hit his tee ball out and almost holed his double bogey chip from under the fence but ended up at +14 with a triple in the group ahead. Van was first to hit and he lofted a sensational chip onto the right side of the 18th fairway It came down close to the fence and also was close to one of the brick light supports that frame the 18th. It would result in an awkward shot for a lefty because he would have to turn the club over and hit it right handed. Carl then struck a magnificent tee ball into the high rough but only 3 feet from the pin in excellent birdie position. Under the circumstances, this was Carl's best shot of his young career. Frank still had his destiny in his hands as he stepped to the box. He fired and it struck the fence midway and scooted across Bannie Avenue OUT OF BOUNDS. Now for a controversy that will go into the Lakeshore lore handbook. Instead of going over the fence to safety, Frank tried the fairway again and he pulled it badly on Bannie and it went traveling towards the fire station at the end of the road.....OUT OF BOUNDS again. Now he felt he had to ace the hole for double bogey and once again it skirted to an asphalt grave. He was out of the running for the Jacket. Carl lined the shot up and mashed the ball into the post for birdie to go to +13 forcing Van to par to tie him or birdie to beat him. Van considered his options but was definitely uncertain on our to proceed in the predicament. He could take an unplayable and give him a clear left handed shot for the par or hit it right handed to either close to the post for the par or hole it out for the win. He only had roughly a 1/2 inch clearance to go for the birdie. He chose the latter but he hit it slightly too firm and it trickled out onto Bannie.... OUT OF BOUNDS. Amazingly, CARL GAGLIONE was the winner of his first Royal Blue Jacket after some 15 tries. Congratulations!
Carl is the epitome of what the Lakeshore is all about. You will not meet a nicer guy than Carl anywhere you travel. He is a very popular winner and a wonderful friend of mine. He has made the cut almost every year he has played. Even though he usually collapses like everyone else on the back 18 of Golf's 5th Major, he keeps coming back for more because of the fun and the charity cause. At 70 years young, he is now the oldest Major Champion of all the 5 Majors. We again raised more than $10.000 for: maximumhope.com. We received a record high donation from Tex Barch and large contributions from Georgie Laverty and Burk Boschetto. Thank you all again. It was a GREAT Lakeshore and party this year.-CHAIRMAN, LAKESHORE OPEN, GOLF'S 5TH MAJOR, MAXIMUM HOPE CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT COMMITTEE