UPDATE NOV 6: AJ McInerney made the most of his opportunity on the PGA Tour.
McInerney was awarded the chance to compete in the Shriners Open in Summerlin after surviving the 1 October mass shooting. Yesterday, he showed that he has the skill to make this more than just a one-and-done situation.
McInerney finished 10th in a tough field of professional golfers.
ORIGINAL STORY: A former UNLV golfer has been invited to compete in his first PGA tournament, after surviving the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival shooting.
Golf has kind of been my safe haven," says AJ McInerney. "I just get lost for a few hours, doing what I love to do."
The Las Vegas native was at the shooting when nearly 60 people were killed.
"We jumped on the ground initially," says McInerney. "I covered my girlfriend."
Once he got his girlfriend to safety, he went back to the festival with his truck to take people to the hospital. A couple weeks after the shooting, he got a phone call saying he had been invited to play in his first PGA tournament, at the Shriners Open in Summerlin.
"We gave this to him because he's a hell of a golfer," says Patrick Lindsey, the tournament director. "He's had some stuff go on lately."
Every year, a handful of competitors are invited as sponsor exemptions. McInerney will compete against some of the best golfers in the world, hoping to give his hometown something to cheer about.
"For me to try to represent Las Vegas to the best of my ability is an opportunity I'll never forget," says McInerney.