A.J. McInerney will always be known as the tour pro who showed amazing bravery during the horrific Las Vegas shooting. But he's also still a great putter—even if that club recently let him down in a big spot.
After missing the cut at the first stage of Q School in excruciating fashion on the final green, the tour pro bounced back the following week with a strong performance on a much different set of greens at the Major Series of Putting. McInerney won both an individual and team contest in the third-year event in Las Vegas and the 26-year-old UNLV product walked away with more than $25,000 in earnings and a renewed confidence with the flatstick.
“I had a blast out here, this is good practice trying to putt under pressure and you know, I actually missed the first stage of Q-school last week because I three putted the last hole,” said McInerney, whose biggest payday during his only full season on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017 was a T-17 check for $10,150. “I just remember how nervous I was with that five-footer that I ended up missing and I mean you have that putt all day long out here. So it’s great preparation and great practice and I am just happy to harness those nerves and turn it into a positive.”
Of course, nothing compares to being caught in the middle of the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Two years ago, McInerney was on the Vegas Strip a mere 40 yards from the stage at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival when bullets were sprayed from a hotel room at the nearby MGM. He quickly acted as a human shield for his girlfriend and then helped lead a group of concert goers to safety. A few weeks later, McInerney was given a sponsor's exemption into the PGA Tour's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where he finished T-10 to take home by far the biggest check ($150,733) of his career.
The stakes were still pretty high at the MSOP where McInerney and fellow Running Rebel Harry Hall claimed the team title. But another former UNLV golfer, Taylor Montgomery, cleaned up more than anyone at the weeklong event that consisted of 14 separate putting contests. Montgomery, who won a $75,000 check at the inaugural tournament in 2017, added another singles title and more than $40,000 in earnings this time.
The Major Series of Putting was established in 2017 and remains the biggest—and most lucrative—putting contest in the world. And this young crop of former UNLV golfers has certainly taken advantage.
“The MSOP Championships is one of my favorite times of the year," Montgomery said. "And it’s so great to see the field continuing to grow year over year."