Daren Johnson (Championship), Todd Roberts (Senior) and Frank Abbott (Silver) all added to their SNGA win totals as each earned gross titles at the 2019 SNGA Tour stop at Painted Desert GC on March 19, 2019. Steve Johnson (Net), Bill Madsen (Senior) and Stephen Sitar (Silver) walked away with net titles. –By Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
The event also saw three players qualify for the 2019 Nevada State Amateur that will be played July 8-10 at Somersett CC in Reno. Those qualifying were: Kamden Ganir, Canon Olkowski and Lorenzo Gillenwater.
Daren Johnson beat Ed Fryatt in a scorecard playoff to win the Championship Division. Both players shot one-over-par 73s.
It was Johnson’s second SNGA win as he won the Laughlin Amateur in 2018.
It didn’t start out like a championship day for Johnson. “Nothing was working the first nine…I shot a 40,” he said. “I missed an awful lot of short putts. I’d hit a good shot and then three-putt. It was frustrating. I couldn’t read the greens at all on the front nine.”
He took a little time at the turn to try and right the ship. “I went in and got a coffee and told myself to just see how low I could go,” he said. “I shot 33 on the back and only missed one green on the back. I had three birdies and no bogeys. I birdied 10 and that gave me the motivation to keep grinding.”
Johnson, who played college golf at Santa Ana College (two years) and then graduated from Holy Names University in Oakland after playing there for two years. He then went on to work as an assistant coach at Holy Names while he got his masters in marketing.
His added his game is getting more and more solid and he’s going to be chasing the dream of millions of players. That goal: “The PGA Tour, of course,” he said. “And you can say I said it with confidence.”
Daren Johnson, 73
Ed Fryatt, 73
Kamden Ganir, 75
Steve Johnson returned to the SNGA circuit in a big way as he posted his first victory.
“I haven’t played in a couple of years because of work and family obligations,” he said. “And I only played in a handful of them a few years ago. But hopefully work will allow me to play in more of them this year.”
He said finding fairways was the key. “My driver kept me in play,” he said. “Hit the driver straight out here and you’ll be all right. I didn’t make a lot of putts but I hit a lot of greens and had a lot of two-putts. It got a little windy, the greens were a little bumpy and it’s a narrow course so overall I was very happy.”
His consistency proved to be vital. “I only had one gross birdie but I didn’t have any double bogeys and that was important,” he said.
Steve Johnson, 69
John Diclaro, 71
George Wolf, 72
Todd Roberts, the 2018 SNGA Senior Player of the Year, posted his first victory of 2019 as he cruised to a two-stroke victory in the Senior Division.
Roberts’ last SNGA victory came at Coyote Springs in the fall of 2018 and was his fifth victory of 2018. Since that victory, he’s had top-3 finishes in five straight events–but no wins.
He said it’s about time.
“I played like I normally do…I kept it in play,” he said. “But I made a couple of putts down the stretch and that was the difference.”
Roberts credited Kenny Ebalo with being the difference maker when it came to the putts.
“I told him I hated my putting grip,” Roberts said. “He showed me how he gripped it and I tried it. It made all the difference in the world. I have better control of the putter. It felt awkward obviously but that’s to be expected when you make a big change.”
That big change included making a 50-footer for birdie on the 17th hole.
“That sealed it,” Roberts said. “I knew I just had to not do anything dumb on 18.”
Todd Roberts, 73
Darrell Lutey, 76
Frank Acker, 78
Bill Madsen’s last win in SNGA action also came last fall at Coyote Springs when he won the Senior Net title.
In 2019, he’s had two second-place finishes before getting back in the winner’s circle.
“It was nice to break through and win again,” he said. “It’s been awhile.”
Madsen said the key to his win, especially on a course like Painted Desert, was accuracy off the tee.
“I hit my tee shots really, really well,” he said. “On a course like this, you’ve got to keep it in play. It’s tight out here.”
He said keeping it in play helped offset a so-so putting day. “I made a couple of bogey-saving putts and one nice birdie putt,” he said. “But it was a little tough for me to get the right line and the right speed.”
Bill Madsen, 69
Gary Drinkhorn, 70
David Golder, 74
Frank Abbott won for the second time in 2019 as he carded an even-par 72 to breeze to a seven-stroke victory.
He also won the season-opening Tournament of Champions.
“I’ve been playing poorly recently but today I played very well,” he said. “This is fun.”
He birdied two of his final three holes to finish in style.
“I drove the ball in the fairway on almost every hole,” he said. “I had one three-putt bogey and a couple of other bogeys but overall it was a good round.”
Despite winning by seven, Abbott had to overcome a dilemma. “I have to get my driver shaft replaced,” he said. “About halfway through, I cracked the shaft. I played with it the rest of the round and just hoped the head didn’t fly off.”
Frank Abbott, 72
Christopher Gibson, 79
John Garrett, 79
Stephen Sitar won for the second time in 2019, this one by two strokes in the Silver Net division.
He’s got an explanation for his recent success. “I retired in December of 2018,” he said with a laugh. “So rather than working all those hours, I’ve managed to get in a few more practice sessions.”
He said this win had a little of everything. “I really overcame today,” he said. “I had a double, a double and a triple (on holes 12, 13 and 14) and was expecting the rest of my round to go the same way. But I parred three of the last four holes so I was happy to turn it around.”
He also had an interesting hole on the front nine. “I was long and in the sand trap on a par-3,” he said. “I came out too long but then chipped in for par. That definitely gave me some confidence.”
Stephen Sitar, 69
Peter Eghoian, 71
Dave Haddock, 72