Golf StoriesSNGA Championship Champs: Koch, Abbott, Koch, Thompson. Bilonta, Driscoll

December 17, 2018by Brian Hurlburt0

The SNGA schedule went out in style with the playing of the 2018 SNGA Championship at Cascata, the final event of the season. Jack Trent (Championship), David Koch (Senior) and Frank Abbott (Silver) played their way to gross titles. Gary Thompson (Net), Gary Bilonta (Senior) and Neil Driscoll (Silver) were the net champions.–By Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff

The event, held Dec. 15-16, 2018, at Cascata, featured 106 golfers, the second biggest field of the year. The first was 112 players at an event in August, also at Cascata.

Championship

It was a roller-coaster two rounds for Jack Trent. The UNLV sophomore posted 12 birdies and seven bogeys en route to a four-stroke victory.

“It was a little stressful,” Trent said. “I’d have one good hole and one not-so-good hole. I was inconsistent so there are certainly still some parts of my game I’ve got to work on.”

It was Trent’s second win in SNGA play as he won an event in the fall of 2017, also at Cascata.

“I played in the Cascata Amateur and won and thought I’d try to play in this one,” he said. “I signed up about 30 minutes before the deadline and got on the waiting list and then got into the tournament. There are good players in the SNGA and you’ve got to be on your game to knock them off.”

He said inconsistent play is also something he wants to address.

“I made plenty of birdies but couldn’t capitalize,” he said. “(Saturday) was a very good round of golf, but there’s still work to do.”

Championship Results

  • Jack Trent, 68-71—139
  • Ed Fryatt, 69-74—143
  • Craig Erikson, 70-78—148

Net

Gary Thompson rallied from nine shots back to win the Net Division by a stroke. It was Thompson’s first SNGA win in his first event.

“Saturday was the first time I had played the course,” he said. “There were a lot of blind shots and I didn’t understand where to miss the shots. (Sunday) was much better. I probably hit 14 greens and just played pretty solid. The first round was a good learning experience for me.”

What kind of learning experience?

“Well, the par-3 7th for example,” he said. “I hit the green in regulation and went on to five-putt. After that I nestled a lot of putts up near the cup rather than trying to be aggressive.”

He added his goal was just to have fun.

“I didn’t have any expectations,” he said. “There was no stress at all. After the first round I thought I was out of it. But (Sunday) I posted a number and it held up.”

Net Results

  • Gary Thompson, 79-73—152
  • Lawrence Berlinger, 73-80—153
  • Trevor Coss, 76-78—154
  • Peter Skorut, 70-84—154

Senior

David Koch broke out of a three-way tie for the lead after the first day and cruised to a four-stroke victory in the Senior Division.

Koch’s second-round 71 was the only round under par over the two days for the seniors and helped him win for the second time in 2018. It was also his 12th top-three finish of the year.

“(Sunday), putting was the key,” he said. “(Saturday) I missed about four four-footers when I kept blowing putts past the hole but today I made all the short putts. And I kept the ball in play.”

Senior  Results

  • David Koch, 78-71—149
  • John Turk, 78-75–153
  • Brigham Gibbs, 81-75—156

Senior Net

Gary Bilonta picked the perfect time to play in his first SNGA event of the year as he won the Senior Net title.

“I came out here with no expectations,” he said. “I just wanted to go out and play the course the best I could. I hit my irons fairly well and most of my drives well.”

But, there were some mis-steps he thought would cost him any chance to win.

“I made a 9 on No. 18 (his second hole of the day) and thought I was probably out of it,” he said. “After that I just wanted to play the course and just have fun. I just basically tried to stay in the fairway and not be too aggressive, especially on approach shots.”

Senior Net Results

  • Gary Bilonta, 78-77—155
  • Patrick Carlin, 79-77—156
  • Dan Mitchell, 86-71–157

Silver

Frank Abbott overcame a slow start in the first round and cruised to a four-shot victory in the Silver Division.

“The odd thing is this is the 11th time I’ve played at Cascata and the 11th time I’ve won,” Abbott said. “And it’s my sixth SNGA championship in a row and my 11th major.”

Abbott was five-over-par with seven holes left in his first round before putting a pair of birdies on the board to close out the round at +3 for a four-shot lead that held up through the second round.

“I didn’t really play that well,” he said. “I haven’t been able to practice much over the last month. But, it was still nice to win.”

He said the second round was up-and-down…for everybody.

“I played decent starting out but then had a couple of hiccups in the middle,” he said. “But by then everybody else also had a couple of hiccups so I was still able to hold on.”

Silver Results

  • Frank Abbott, 75-77—152
  • Steve Wilson, 81-75—156
  • Dario Gonzales, 79-84—163

Silver Net

Neil Driscoll used consistency to win the Silver Net title, ending the year with his second season-ending victory. He also won the final event of the SNGA Tour season.

Silver Net Results

  • Neil Driscoll, 71-72—143
  • Harold Belk, 76-70—146
  • David Allen, 74-75—149

Brian Hurlburt

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