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November 29, 2014

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Golf:

Locals looking strong in Vegas PGA Tournament

Four players with local ties within two shots of the lead

Justin Timberlake Pro-Am Tournament

Comedian George Lopez, right, messes with Oscar De La Hoya as he tries to putt on the 18th green during the pro-am portion of the 2009 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open golf tournament Wednesday, Oct. 14.
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Could this be the year a local breaks through and wins Las Vegas’ PGA Tournament? It’s starting to look more and more possible after the second day of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin.

Four players with local ties are within two shots of the lead with the field cut in half.

Chad Campbell, a 1996 UNLV graduate, is most notable as he tied for the lead after shooting a 9-under 62 on Friday. Overall, Campbell and co-leader Troy Matteson are at 13-under.

“I spent a lot of time playing this golf course in college,” Campbell said. “I definitely feel comfortable out here. We’ve played this course so many times, and I always love coming back here and seeing everybody.”

Campbell, who entered Friday’s round at 4-under, played solid from the time he teed off at 11:58 a.m. He recorded no bogeys and six birdies.

He saved his best moment for his final hole. Campbell converted on a 20-foot putt on the ninth hole, a 563-yard par five, to make eagle after hitting his tee shot in the rough.

“It was definitely a great way to end the round,” Campbell said.

Campbell played in the most popular and successful pairing of the day. Tagging along with Campbell was Ryan Moore, a 2005 UNLV graduate, who is one shot behind the lead at 12-under.

“That was great, kind of unexpected,” Moore said. “He’s a great guy. I loved playing with him.”

Moore also had an eagle Friday. His came on the 16th hole, a 560-yard par five, after he placed his approach shot four feet from the hole.

Moore was inches away from being tied for the lead. On the eighth hole — his 17th of the day — Moore barely missed a 44-foot birdie putt that would have tied him with Campbell.

“Even when I get 35-40 feet away, I feel like I have a pretty decent chance of making it,” Moore said. “That’s something I haven’t felt in a really long time. My 17th hole, I honestly thought I made it.”

Scott Piercy, a Bonanza High graduate, stands one shot behind Moore and two from the lead at 11-under. He recorded a 4-under 67 on Friday.

The performance came a day after his wife, Sara, gave birth to the couple’s third son Thursday night. Jett Piercy was born at 9:44 p.m.

“I got very little sleep last night,” Piercy said. “With that in mind, I am happy with my round today and where I stand going into the weekend.”

Rickie Fowler, who ranked the world’s top amateur player until he left Oklahoma State early last year, is tied with Piercy after shooting a 7-under 64 on Friday.

Fowler relocated to Las Vegas from Stillwater, Okla. The JT Shriners Open is his first event as a PGA Tour professional.

He credited the extra time to work on his game as one reason why he is near the top of the leader board.

“Now that I’ve turned pro and this is kind of what I’m doing day in and day out, I’m working a little more on putting and chipping,” Fowler said. “Before, I just played quite a bit.”

Las Vegas’ top four — Campbell, Moore, Piercy and Fowler — all said they are confident heading into the weekend.

“It’s right there in front of me,” Moore said. “I’ve got to go keep playing golf. That’s all I can do.”

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