Playing for the Big Bucks
For a $50,000 entry fee, a group of starry-eyed golfers teed it up at Wynn Las Vegas for a $2 million prize in the Ultimate Game
From the Print Edition:
Richard Branson, Sept/Oct 2007
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Sarah and the boys were at greenside when the winning putt dropped. After she had returned from the baseball game the night before, she had talked with her husband in bed for five minutes. "He was really calm," she said. "I think he knew."
Maybe casino executive Bobby Baldwin didn't know the night before, but he was betting on Piercy all along. He led a syndicate of 13 investors that put up $100,000 to sponsor Piercy and Kevin Streelman, with the players and the syndicate splitting the money 50-50. "We met four years ago and I thought he had tremendous ability," Baldwin says about Piercy, showing considerably more emotion than the winner. "We sponsored him in the Big Stakes Game and we decided to do it in this event until he won it. Didn't take long, did it?"
With some fresh cash in his pocket, Piercy thought that his PGA Tour dream could still come true. He Monday-qualified for the Travelers Championship in Hartford, Connecticut, three weeks later, but missed the cut. One of the perks of winning the Ultimate Game was earning a sponsor exemption to a Nationwide Tour event, but nearly a month after his win, the 28-year-old hadn't seen anything but his check. "It's a little disappointing, but I'm hoping that winning it will mean something more down the line," he says. "I know I can play."
The joke around the Wynn was that if Jarner had won, he would have been sent off to caddie for the first group on Saturday morning. So Agnes didn't get her Porsche and Jarner didn't get to trade in his caddie bib. But with the $50,000 he earned for making the final field, at least there was a party. "Believe me, it was tough back then trying to qualify for the Nike Tour, but I don't think it ever felt like this. I found myself pretty calm that second day. Sure, I'm disappointed I didn't win. But I proved a little something to myself, that I'm good enough."
Jeff Williams is a Cigar Aficionado contributing editor.
Photos by Michael Doven
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