Nevada Golf Nevada Open
By Joe Morris
Photo Credit: SNGA
Nevada Open Won with
First Hole Playoff Birdie
The third and final round of the Mesquite Gaming sponsored
annual Nevada Open featured a crowded field of 192 aspiring PGA
Tour professionals. To them, the result was no less dramatic than a
Sunday finish at a major. Two diametrically different personalities with
ascending golf careers exchanging birdies for three rounds culminating
in a playoff at the pristine Casablanca golf course in Mesquite, Nevada.
The $20,000 winner’s check probably already spent on entry fees into
the next event.
27 year-old Seann Harlington made the trip down from Vancouver,
Canada where he’s spent the last ten years snowboarding and hiding
from his past golf career. In 2003, while still in high school in Southern
California Harlingten made the cut in his first Web.com event. With a
promising golf career imminent, he went to work on his game and tore
a tendon in his right wrist while hitting range balls. That was it.
“I moved to Vancouver to get away from golf’ reminisced Harlingten
with a hint of acknowledgement of the emotional impulsiveness of
youth. After rounds of 64-68-67 he’s in a sudden death playoff before
heading home to the second round of Canadian Tour Q-School.
Harlington is back, with his years ago healed wrist, long surfer blond
hair tied up under a plain grey cap, a few tattoos peeking out from
under his golf shirt and a jaded confidence revealing that he’s been here
before. Harlington drips the attitude that this trophy is just a necessary
step to get him where he should already be before his golf career so
cruelly ended ten years ago.
But first he needs to outplay Tom Whitney, a decorated golfer from
Colorado. Whitney’s path to this playoff is distinctly different in every way.
Only a few months out of the Air Force where Whitney served, attached
to the 319th Missile Squadron at FE Warren AFB, Wyoming, as a Lieutenant
in the U.S. Air Force. Flanked by his wife, who is currently an Air Force
captain, his caddy brother who is also an Air Force Captain at Creech Air
Force Base in Southern Nevada and his palpably proud parents.
Whitney played four years of college golf for the Air Force Academy
before turning pro in 2010. He’s a three-time reigning champion of the
Air Force Golf Championship and the reigning champion for the Military
World Championship, a competition of various countries’ military
athletes, organized by C.I.S.M. (Counseil International du Sport Militaire).
Being that the Nevada Open held it’s first round on Veteran’s Day,
Whitney instantly became my odds-on favorite to win.
Both players hit driver on the short par four 18th hole at Casablanca
Resort Golf Club, a hole they both made birdie on less than half an
hour ago to secure their playoff spots over four other players who were
tied one stroke back with a three round total of 200. As expected, the
cool Harlington split the fairway leaving only a pitching wedge into
the front pin location. Whitney’s slightly unconventional, crouching
follow through golf swing resulted in a slight pull this time, bouncing
two feet into the left rough. The thin, dormant Bermuda rough posed
no problem however as he neatly placed his approach seven feet right
of the flagstick. Harlingten’s wedge shot ended up about ten feet to the
left of the hole, advantage flips to Whitney.
Any resident of Nevada has learned the hard way not to bet with
emotions. Your favorite team will not always win, even less often if you
put money on them. Harlingten putted first and drained it. Whitney left
his attempt on the high-side lip.
Harlingten wins, briefly thanks the sponsors and unconvincingly
vows to return. His caddy trades him the giant foamcore check for a can
of beer as they load his golf bag into their rental car.