Former Coronado star Grant McKay (Championship), Todd Roberts (Senior) and Mark Griffin (Silver) won titles in the gross divisions at the SNGA’s 2019 Cascata Amateur held Aug. 10-11, 2019 at the beautiful Cascata, designed by the U.S. Open Doctor Rees Jones. Robert Taylor (Net), Gordon Schiring (Senior) and John Kelley (Silver) claimed net titles. –By Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
For Grant McKay, the wait is finally over.
After finishing third in more SNGA events than he can remember, he finally picked up a victory. He did win an SNGA Tour event in 2017, but this is his first win in an SNGA two-day event.
“Coming down the stretch, I didn’t have my best stuff,” McKay said. “I just told myself to stay in the present and try to hit the best shots I could.”
He pointed to hole No. 10 on Sunday as a key example. “I hit it in the middle of the fairway but didn’t hit a good shot and my second went into a bunker. I managed to get it up and down by making a six-footer and that helped me finish the round strong. I felt like that hole boosted my confidence and I was able to make a few good swings down the stretch and hold on.”
He knows he still has work to do.
“The last couple of months I’ve been working hard to get my game in the best possible shape,” McKay said. “I didn’t have the best numbers, but I persevered. I proved to myself that even not having my best stuff I can play well and hang in there.”
McKay has transferred to Grand Canyon University and will be a junior this fall. He said his play this weekend will certainly help his confidence.
“The fact I was able to stay confident and be able to hit golf shots when I needed to was a plus,” he said. “I proved to myself I could handle the pressure despite not having my best game.”
He added he’s looking forward to the time he plans to spend with his new teammates after transferring in.
“Even though golf is an individual sport, being able to be part of a team is a great experience,” he said “We have the same vision and drive and being able to help them out or get help from them is a really cool thing.”
Grant McKay, 75-77—152
Daren Johnson, 81-72—153
Lorenzo Gillenwater, 75-78—153
Robert Taylor sizzled to a 10-under-par 62 net score during the second round and breezed to his first SNGA title.
After opening with a one-over-par 73, Taylor carded five natural birdies that helped him to record four net eagles and three net birdies in his second round. For the day, he only had one bogey on his card.
“This was like a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me,” Taylor said of his first SNGA victory. “I shot 71 today and that’s the second lowest score I’ve ever shot.”
Taylor came into the day five shots behind and was just looking for a solid finish.
“Hendra (Wijaya) was really playing well,” Taylor said. “I was five behind and didn’t think there was any way I was going to catch him. I just wanted to shoot the lowest score I could.”
But then came an opening. “On hole 12 he took a nine and I took a four and that’s when I caught him,” Taylor said. “Then I went one or two ahead and I just tried to keep it together.”
Robert Taylor, 73-62—135
Hendra Wijaya, 68-71—139
Jeffrey Gilliame, 78-74—152
Todd Roberts won for the fourth time in 2019 (three gross and one net), this one a three-stroke victory after a pair of one-over-par 73s.
He said his scoring was a roller coaster ride over the two days because of one aspect: His putting. For the two days he had an eagle, seven birdies, nine bogies and a double bogey.
“Both days I played absolutely great golf,” he said. “I hit it so well. But both days I missed a lot of short, makeable putts. I tried to stay patient but that can be hard to do when you’re missing short putts for par. I missed three four-footers in the first six or seven holes today but I managed to make five birdies so I hung tough.”
It came down to the 18th hole (the 5th hole on the course). Roberts and Sean Mulvenon hit their second shots into greenside bunkers. Mulvenon left his third shot in the bunker. Roberts made sure he didn’t. But, it didn’t work out the way he planned.
“I figure bunker shots are my best shots,” he said. “I was just trying to get it all the way to the hole but I skulled it 40 yards over the green and into the junk.”
Things got worse. They found the golf ball and after taking an unplayable lie, Roberts wound up with a terrible lie when the ball rolled into a lie with twigs over the ball. “I just tried to make contact and wound up hitting the shot of my life,” he said. “It rolled out to about 15 feet and I figured I needed to two-putt but I made the putt for bogey.”
Todd Roberts, 73-73—146
Sean Mulvenon, 74-75—149
John Turk, 77-76—153
Gordon Schiring admits his game is coming around. He proved that by winning his fourth title of 2019 (three net and one gross).
The key to his success at Cascata? “I found a lot of fairways and hit a lot of greens,” he said. “On this course, if you don’t hit fairways and greens you’re going to find trouble. This course is definitely a tough test.”
He added his thinking has also been a vital component to his being at the top of the leaderboard.
“I’m hitting much more consistent shots and not worrying about my length,” he said. “I know I can hit my driver longer, but I’ve learned that if you hit it in the short grass more often, par becomes a much easier score.”
Gordon Schiring, 75-70—145
Michael Godfrey, 76-75—151
Rodrigo Qintero, 79-74—153
Mark Griffin looked at his first round 80 with a silver lining outlook.
“I didn’t shoot well but I birdied the last two holes,” he said. “That gave me a little boost going into Sunday.”
The second day went much smoother. “I quit trying to muscle the ball,” he said. “And that helped tremendously. I hit a bunch of 3-woods off the tee and really stayed within myself.
The result? “I had three birdies today and just kept plugging along,” he said.
Another key was his chipping…or the lack of it. “My chipping hasn’t been very good recently,” he said with a laugh. “I hit about all of the greens on my front nine today in regulation so that kept me from having to chip.”
Mark Griffin, 80-72—152
Steven Fink, 77-76—153
Kent Samuel, 84-73—157
Turns out John Kelley is a quick learner. And that learning ability resulted in him winning an SNGA title for the second time in 2019.
His learning came on the greens. “I putted really well,” Kelley said. “These greens are tough but I was lucky and usually had someone putting ahead of me on the same line. I paid close attention on the greens.”
Kelley said his game’s been struggling a little, but he’s hopeful he’s back on track. “It’s taken me awhile to get everything back together,” he said. “But it sure feels good to be back in the winner’s circle.”
Kelley also gave credit to the SNGA staff. “They do such a great job,” he said. “The opportunities they give us to play these courses is just tremendous.”
John Kelley, 74-67—141
Walter Sabati, 73-75—148
Darwin Rogers, 70-78—148