Eight players were crowned champions at the 2019 Tournament of Champions, featuring SNGA and WSNGA play, held at Reflection Bay Golf Club on Jan. 29, 2019. The event featured 70 champions from the SNGA, WSNGA and champions from area clubs. Lorenzo Gillenwater (Championship), Donald Blanton (Net), John Turk (Senior), Chris Boyer (Senior Net), Frank Abbott (Silver), Loren Little (Silver Net), Debbie Love (Women) and Rusty Beckel (Women Net) earned title of “champions of champions.” –By Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
Lorenzo Gillenwater won the Championship Division in a scorecard playoff after posting a two-over-par 74.
Gillenwater said his goal was simple: Keep the ball in play. “I just got new irons yesterday and they seem to fit my game real well,” he said. “I also played the course without a driver and played with a hybrid to keep the ball in play. I just tried to play smart.”
He said picking up the win in the 2019 tournament opener was a great way to start the year.
“It was a great time to post that first win,” he said. “Hopefully I can keep it going.”
Lorenzo Gillenwater, 74
Greg Hordesky, 74
Ed Fryatt, 75
“Dandy” Donald Blanton’s move to the Net Division for the 2019 year started off with a bang.
“My new goal is to win the Net Division,” said Blanton, who won the 2017 and 2018 Senior Net year-long championships.
He added his victory, also in a scorecard playoff, is a great beginning.
“This course usually eats me up,” he said. “I just went for bogeys. I’m tired of making doubles and triples. Those have killed me in the past.”
To that end, he was proud of one fact.
“For one of the rare times I had all the golf balls I started out with at the end,” he said.
While his golf game keeps improving, there’s one aspect he knows still needs work.
“I had way too many putts,” he said. “I had 37 putts. I want to get it to 32 putts or less. Thirty-seven is just way too many.”
Donald Blanton, 72
Shawn Smith 72
Jeffrey Gilliame, 77
John Turk posted a four-stroke victory in the Senior Division as he overcame a quadruple bogey 8 in posting the victory.
“I had a pretty good day,” Turk said. “It’s nice to get the year off to a good start.”
Turk had it to five-under-par in an early-round stretch that included five birdies in his first seven holes. He was at 4-under as headed to the first hole (his 13th of the round) and then came the quadruple bogey.
“I went from four-under back to even,” he said. “That wasn’t good. My goal after that was to get it back to one-under but I birdied the last two holes to get it to -2 so I finished well. I just tried to get back in the good graces of the golf course.”
He said everything, except his 3-wood, clicked for him. “And obviously I putted very well,” he said.
He won three times in six events in 2018 despite having to miss the first four months of the season.
“It’s nice to be able to play early and get off to a good start,” he said.
John Turk, 70
Frank Acker, 74
Steven Fink, 74
Chris Boyer is back in the winner’s circle after having won in Summerlin in March of 2018.
“I was just keeping it in play,” Boyer said. “I didn’t have any penalty shots and my putter didn’t let me down. Overall, my game was very consistent.”
He said the day was perfect for everyone.
“With these weather conditions and the course setup, it was great for scoring,” he said. “And every hole fit my eye. If I was in doubt, I pulled out an iron to play it safe.”
And his trouble shots–and his finish–also helped.
“I had a couple of tough bunker shots but managed to get them up and down,” he said. “And I birdied the last hole so that was icing on the cake,” he said.
Chris Boyer, 70
Bill Madsen, 71
William Thompson, 73
Frank Abbott took up right where he left off in 2018–in the winner’s circle.
Abbott won seven times in 2018 including the season-finale at Cascata.
“I kept it in front of me and didn’t make many mistakes,” Abbott said. “I actually played better than expected. I’ve only played three or four times in the last five weeks. I basically drove it well and putted it OK.”
Abbott said the drive to win is still high for him every time out.
“Just get out there and try and do your best,” he said. “If you don’t want to do that, you don’t play. I just enjoy competing…and I don’t like losing.”
Frank Abbott, 75
Allan Howa, 75
Cyrus Whitney, 78
It was crowded at the top of the Silver Net leaderboard as Loren Little won a three-way scorecard playoff.
Little, Mark Dopheide and Larry Keever each shot even-par72s.
Loren Little, 72
Mark Dopheide, 72
Larry Keever, 72
Debbie Love battled a balky driver but still breezed to victory in the women’s gross title with a four-over-par 76.
“Normally I’m good off the tee but today…not so great,” she said. “But my short game and putting picked me up. I’ve been working very hard on my short game and it really paid off today.”
She had five birdies on the round including a hole-out from a bunker.
“It was an amazing day,” she said. “I played with the best and played well enough to beat them and feel very fortunate to have won.”
Debbie Love, 76
Regina Quintero, 81
Ronda Henderson, 86
Rusty Beckel, a co-captain and player for the South team in the 2018 Silver Cup, won by a stroke in the Women’s Net Division.
“I was just excited to be there,” Beckel said. “I tried to stay relaxed and do the best I could.”
Her start to the round helped get her to that relaxed state.
“I had a par and then a couple of birdies early so that kept me in a pretty good mood,” she said. “Tee to green I did pretty well. I was in the fairways most of the time and stayed out of trouble. And I made some great putts. I had one go in from abou 30 feet…it was lucky and it was awesome.”
Rusty Beckel, 73
Krista Bornstein, 74
Gabrielle Buonacorsi, 75