Cameron Davis and Lucas Herbert headline the four-player Australian contingent at this week’s Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas, but another Down Under golfer has an interesting story to tell.
Craig Hocknull, a US-based Australian club pro, will tee up in the sixth PGA Tour start of his fascinating career. A member of the PGA of America who splits his time teaching between New York and Scottsdale, Arizona, Hocknull is in the Shriners field in Las Vegas due to winning the PGA’s Southwest section championship, which affords a spot in the Shriners field.
In one lifetime, Hocknull has performed the roles of travelling trick shot artist, club builder, club pro, tour player and even once the fast-thinking hero of an armed hold-up.
Hocknull was the victim of an attempted robbery in 1994 while studying at Jackson State University in Mississippi. He and four roommates were relaxing in their apartment when two people armed with revolvers tried to break through the front door. Hocknull slammed the door on one of the attacker’s arms before a nightmarish emergency phone call to 911. He forgot to dial ‘9’ to route the call outside the university and had to wait for 30 minutes for emergency services to arrive.
“That was pretty scary times,” Hocknull told your correspondent at the 2018 PGA Championship, where he made his major debut. “Growing up in Australia, I don’t even know if I ever saw a gun, but coming to the US is a different story. I guess I shouldn’t have even opened the door; I’m thankful to be alive. I was able to slam the door on his hand and shut the deadbolt.”
Hocknull went on to forged a unique path in golf. He was once a travelling trick-shot artist who produced the Outback Golf Show in 2003 – where he dressed like Crocodile Dundee and performed his skills around the world. He also has created Saber Golf putters and its training equipment.
Meanwhile, PGA Tour players Herbert and Harrison Endycott are coming off a T-28 at the Sanderson Farms event last week, while Sydneysider Davis is hoping to better his third placing at the season-opening Fortinet Championship in Napa, California, last month.
Australian veteran tour players Cameron Percy and Aaron Baddeley are alternates for this week’s event.
The Shriners Children’s Open will be held at TPC Summerlin. Tom Kim is the defending champion while LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson is coming across to the men’s tour for a week to make her PGA Tour debut.
Rod Pampling is the most recent Australian to have won the event, triumphing in 2016.