Vegas guy Maverick McNealy hits first ball Monday morning at just-reopened TPC Summerlin, then shoots bogey-free 64 to start 2022 Shriners Children’s Open

LAS VEGAS — TPC Summerlin opened in 1991 and has been the sole location for the PGA Tour’s Vegas stop since 2008. The private course closed in April of this year for a massive re-sodding of all the tee boxes, fairways and greens.

It stayed closed till Monday of tournament week for the Shriners Children’s Open and not a ball was struck for five months, according to tournament director Patrick Lindsey, until Harry Hall on the 1st hole and Maverick McNealy on the 10th sent their shots flying early that morning.

“I wanted to be the first guy out at least on one of the nines and take the first divot, so I was here at 6:30 ready to tee off,” said McNealy, who has lived in the area since 2017.

He grew up in Northern California and played his college golf at Stanford. Five years ago, when he first played in Vegas, he decided he needed a change of address.

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“Sam Ryder, he and I on the 1st hole [today], we were talking about the first time we played together five years ago. It was 2017 when we played this tournament. We were paired together. It felt like yesterday, but it also feels like forever ago,” McNealy said. “That was the week that I packed up everything I owned in my mom’s old Ford Explorer and drove to Las Vegas and moved here.”

He wasted no time fitting in to his new surroundings.

“I’ve been a proud resident for five years, a hockey fan and lucky to get to play a golf course like this, TPC Summerlin. Right next door, TPC Las Vegas, The Summit, Shadow Creek. There’s a lot of great golf courses out here.”

On Thursday, McNealy, who estimated he’s played TPC Summerlin as many as 150 times, shot a bogey-free, 7-under 64 to start his week.

Going low is the name of the game in golf and that’s especially true at a course that yields a lot of birdies. Avoiding bogey is also key, as golfers can’t afford to go backwards on this fast track.

Of the 180 holes played by the top 10 on the leaderboard of early-wave golfers Thursday, there were only five bogeys recorded.

2022 Shriners Children's Open
Scenic views at the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. (Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images)

And if birdies are good, eagles are great. Tom Hoge had two of them on his way to posting an 8-under 63 to take the outright clubhouse lead. It’s the second time he’s had two eagles in the same round. On Thursday, he made eagle two different ways, first holing out from 109 yards with a 52-degree wedge on No. 7, then pouring in a 30-foot putt on No. 16.

“It’s always nice to hole a wedge shot like that because it’s been a while since I’ve done it,” Hoge said. “Shoot, I’m trying to think of the last. I can’t even remember.”

Tied with McNealy in second at 7 under is Si Woo Kim, who had one of those five bogeys but he also tacked on eight birdies.

Kim was grouped with Presidents Cup teammate Tom Kim and Presidents Cup rival Max Homa. The U.S. vs. Internationals battle was a frequent topic of discussion for the group for more than four hours Thursday.

“We still have good memories there,” Si Woo Kim said. “We still talk about the Presidents Cup, like some holes. Then I finish a hole, and Tom came over on 18 and I said, ‘If you make that one, I got to ask you to go throw the hat like the last hole Saturday,'” he quipped.

Tom Kim is also in the mix at the Shriners. He, too, shot a bogey-free round of 6-under 65. Sam Ryder, Keith Mitchell, Will Gordon and Thomas Detry also all posted 65s.

For McNealy, having a home-course advantage and a strong cheering section can only help.

“It’s a really fun week because I have probably 15 to 20 people out watching on a given day. If I get to the weekend, it will be a big crowd,” he said.

And there are no second thoughts about his move to Vegas.

“It’s been awesome. My three brothers now live with me. We’re all living in the same house together. Joseph Bramlett lives with me. He’s also on Tour. And my parents are 15 minutes down the street. Really put my roots down here.”

Other scores from the early wave: Jason Day (5-under 66), Max Homa (4-under 67), Gary Woodland (3-under 68) and Rickie Fowler (1-under 70).

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