124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

Winner Take All

The story of how this pro earned a sponsor's exemption into last year's Shriners is the most Vegas thing you'll ever hear


Raj Mehta

Professional golfers quite literally bet on themselves every time they tee it up, so they're no strangers to a little bit of action. But playing one-on-one for a coveted PGA Tour start as a struggling Korn Ferry Tour pro? Well, that's just the most diabolical thing we've ever heard.

That's exactly what went down a year ago between Harry Hall and Taylor Montgomery, both of whom are now PGA Tour rookies and in the field at this week's Shriners Children's Open. That was not the case in 2021, when the former UNLV teammates were each vying for a sponsor's exemption at TPC Summerlin.

Patrick Lindsey, the tournament director for the Shriners, was having trouble deciding which former Runnin' Rebel he should give it to. So he came up with the fairest—and most Las Vegas—idea he could think of: play each other for it.

"Taylor and I have got some history on this golf course as far as last year," Hall said on Wednesday. "Patrick, who's the tournament director, he was really tied up between picking Taylor and I for an exemption, and he actually made us play for it, a two-man—it was a stroke-play event, just Taylor and I, and we played on a Friday a couple weeks prior to this event, and I managed to beat Taylor by one to get into the Shriners last year, and I ended up coming eighth, so that was a big moment in my career."

We'd say so. Hall's one-stroke win over Montgomery and subsequent top-10 finish earned him nearly $205,000, which, not to sound harsh, was $205,000 more than Montgomery made that week. Safe to say Hall's gamble paid off, fittingly, in Sin City.

"I think we were quite close," Hall said of the match. "Both two under or three under playing 13, and I think I eagled it and Taylor bogeyed it and I had a little three-shot cushion going into the last few holes, which was big."

By the sound of it, Montgomery didn't think it was all that close.

"Him and I last year, he kicked my ass out here for the qualifier," said Montgomery, who will be playing alongside Hall for the first two rounds this year. "It'll be fun playing with him. He's just a really good guy, and he's really smart with his game, and the future is very bright for him."

Good to see there's no bad blood. The two are still very tight, and they play a game almost every week at Shadow Creek, where Montgomery's father Monte is the Director of Golf.

"I always knew Taylor would be out here one day," said Hall. "And playing together on Thursday and Friday this week is a special moment for me and a special moment for the community and UNLV golf. Hopefully we can get some support and play good golf, too."

So far this season, Montgomery has exacted some revenge on Hall, picking up consecutive top-10 finishes at the Fortinet and the Sanderson Farms, while Hall missed the cut in both events. Perhaps the Englishman can lean on last year's good memories and regain some bragging rights this week. Whatever happens, the friendship will remain firmly intact.

"We're still friends no matter what happens," said Hall. "Taylor is like a brother to me. With his dad at Shadow Creek, all his friends and my friends, so I'm very fortunate that they've treated me as part of the family over the last few years, and I don't think that will ever change, whether we're competing for this trophy this week or maybe the Ryder Cup next year."

Or another sponsor's exemption. Though, the way they're both going, that won't be necessary any time soon.