Local golfer goes Vegas Strong at Shriners Open - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Local golfer goes Vegas Strong at Shriners Open

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Golfer Aj McInerney sits by his gold clubs as he recounts his experience the night of 1 October (FOX5). Golfer Aj McInerney sits by his gold clubs as he recounts his experience the night of 1 October (FOX5).

AJ McInerney may not be a household name in golf just yet, but he is a homegrown product right here in Las Vegas. The Coronado High School graduate and UNLV alum will play his first career PGA tour event this week at TPC Summerlin. But as thankful as he is for this opportunity, he’s even more thankful to be alive.

On Monday, AJ McInerney was just one of 144 professional golfers getting ready for the 35th edition of the Shriners Open, but four weeks ago, he was one of the thousands at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, caught in the midst of the worst mass shooting in modern history.

"He got into about his third song, I grabbed my girlfriend, I was actually dancing with her during that song, was right there with her, grabbed her, hit the deck," McInerney said.

AJ and his girlfriend found safety in the MGM parking garage, but instead of high tailing it home, he began to help others.

"I just kind of motioned, everyone get in, get in, I have a Yukon, luckily I didn't have any golf clubs or anything like that in the way back, but we fit in about 13 to 15 people in my car and got out," said McInerney.

And because of that risk and his talents on the greens, AJ was rewarded.

Earlier this month AJ was granted an exemption to play his first PGA tour event in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, something AJ has dreamed about since he was a kid.

"Got that phone call and I was pretty speechless, I was almost shaking hearing the news," McInerney said.

As a rookie for the Web.com tour, AJ has played 21 events this year, but the Shriners Open will be his first since the 1 October shootings.

"Golf is what I do, it's what I love, I do play for a living, but it's what I love to do, being able to play golf again and get back into it," he said. "We didn't sleep for about 50-60 hours after it happened so once that first week kind of passed I was able to be ready to come back out and practice it really helped a lot," McInerney continued.

AJ may not be the most famous pro on the course this week, but he is the one locals are coming out to see, wearing Vegas Strong on his heart and on his clubs as well.

"I do know that I'm playing for Vegas and that's pretty cool, to play for a bigger picture, we as golfers kind of get locked in our own little world sometimes and to play for something that's bigger than just yourself is something I'm looking forward to,” McInerney said. “I think I can continue this attitude, Vegas Strong program that Vegas has built, moving forward for the rest of my career."

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