LPGA Las Vegas event gets first commitments

Ally Ewing updates the tournament bracket after winning the championship round of the Bank of H ...

Defending champion Ally Ewing, 2022 season points leader Danielle Kang and reigning British Open champion Anna Nordqvist are the first players to commit for next month’s Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play.

The three are the first of 64 players who will be announced in the coming weeks for the tournament, set for May 25-29 at Shadow Creek.

Ewing won the inaugural tournament last spring, beating Sophia Popov in the championship match for her second LPGA title.

It’s a given that Kang will play the tournament on her home course. Last spring, she served as de facto host of the tournament, proudly showing off her course to her peers, most of whom had never played it before.

Nordqvist, a three-time major champion, made it through the qualifying rounds last year despite having world No. 1 Jin Young Ko in her pod.

Last year’s tournament featured almost all of the top players in the world. Nelly Korda, Jessica Korda, Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson were among the few who skipped the event, primarily because it falls one week before the U.S. Women’s Open.

Nelly Korda said earlier this year that she planned to play in 2022, but her confirmation to the Review-Journal came before she was diagnosed with a blood clot in her arm that has sidelined her for more than a month, causing her to miss the year’s first major.

As the tournament ramps up, officials are looking for volunteers. About 450 people are needed for a variety of on-course and off-course positions. For information or to apply, visit bankofhopelpgamatchplay.com.

Johnson repeats in Las Vegas

Kamaiu Johnson successfully defended his 2021 title last week at the APGA Tour event at TPC Las Vegas.

The two-round tournament was reduced to just 18 holes due to severe wind wiping out the first round of play.

Johnson fired an even-par 71 for a two-shot victory over Aaron Beverly, Joseph Hooks and Willie Mack III. He won $7,500 from the $25,000 purse.

Johnson is one of the biggest names on the APGA Tour, having earned a spot last year in the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open. But on tournament week, he tested positive for COVID and did not get to play.

“It was quite a journey last year, for sure,” said Johnson, who plays out of Oviedo, Florida. “Then my daughter was born in October and that was amazing. Now, I’m more relaxed, patient. I know she’s going to love me whether I shoot 82 or 62.”

In a turn of good karma, Farmers officials had Johnson back in January for the spot in the field he couldn’t fill a year earlier.

Close call for Montgomery

UNLV alum Taylor Montgomery came close to his first Korn Ferry Tour win over the weekend, settling for a tie for fourth at the Veritex Bank Championship in Arlington, Texas.

Montgomery played in the final pairing Saturday after rounds of 65-66-64. A final-round 70 left him at 19-under 265, three shots behind winner Tyson Alexander.

Montgomery moved up to 28th on the season points list, with the top 25 at year’s end earning a promotion to the PGA Tour. Montgomery finished 26th last season.

Fioroni goes low

UNLV sophomore Caden Fioroni wrapped up the regular season in style, shooting an 8-under 63 in the final round of the Thunderbird Collegiate Saturday at Papago Golf Course in Phoenix.

Fioroni had an eagle and six birdies in a bogey-free round, vaulting him into second place two shots behind James Leow of Arizona State.

Fioroni’s 63 matches the second lowest single-round score in UNLV history.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.