Daren Johnson (Championship), Gordon Schiring (Senior) and Steven Fink (Silver) captured gross titles in the 2019 CasaBlanca Amateur Championship held Oct. 5-6, 2019, at CasaBlanca Golf Club in Mesquite. Renee Rocco (Net), Jim O’Hare (Senior) and Walter Sabati (Silver) won net crowns. For O’ Hare, the battle to win was both on and off the course as he has stage 4 prostate cancer. — by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider.
Daren Johnson is back in the SNGA winner’s circle. Johnson won the Championship Division by three strokes. It was his second win of 2019. He won in March but since that victory has two second-place finishes along with a third.
Johnson said he had one goal: Stay patient. “There weren’t a whole lot of birdies out there,” he said. “It was tough to get the ball consistently around the pin. There were times you just needed to take your pars and when you had a chance at birdie to make sure to capitalize.”
Johnson is working at Rhodes Ranch while he fine-tunes his game. He graduated from Holy Names University in Oakland after playing there for two years and went on to work as an assistant coach at Holy Names while working on his masters in marketing.
Johnson is still working on his game in the hopes of getting to a point where he’s good enough to be on tour…any tour.
“That’s still the goal, he said. “I’m just trying to get to where I’m real consistent. I want to be able to post real, real low scores to maybe help me get through a qualifier or help me leapfrog guys if I’m coming from behind.”
To that end, he’s also been focusing on another aspect of his game.
“I’m working hard on the mental part of my game,” he said. “I’m trying to stay focused longer and realizing that sometimes things happen that are out of my control. I’m learning to take those things a little more in stride.”
Daren Johnson, 76-72—148
David Wilcoxen, 76-75—151
Lorenzo Gillenwater, 80-72—152
Renee Rocco made it 1-for-1 in SNGA events, posting her best-ever round in the process.
Rocco, who is the SNJGA golf operations manager, said playing in the event gave her a chance to hone her skills in tournament play with guys she interacts with on a weekly basis.
“I usually shoot in the 80s or high 70s,” she said. “(Sunday) was actually my best round ever. It was 74 before this one so I’m happy about that.”
She said there was no miracle formula for her round.
“My driver was good today and I hit a lot of fairways and greens,” she said. “(Saturday) I was hitting everything left so I tried to slow down my tempo and I hit it a lot straighter.”
In the end, it came down to the 18th hole. “My playing partner was doing live scoring and he said I just needed a par,” she said. “But I hit it in the bunker on the right off the tee. I hit the lip on my second shot and had an 8-iron into the green from 130 yards. I left myself a 25-footer for par and made it. It was a pretty clutch putt.”
She said she’s teed it up with the net guys on the weekend before but wanted to give tournament play a chance.
“I just wanted to come out and play and have a good time,” she said. “Since I won this one and the Paiute club championship I’ll definitely be teeing it up at the Tournament of Champions in January. It’s nice to be on the other side of the tournament playing.”
Renee Rocco, 73-64—137
George Wolf, 72-67—139
Trevor Cross, 75-70—145
Gordon Schiring made it five SNGA wins in 2019 as he added his second gross title to go along with three net crowns.
He won by a stroke and needed help…a lot of help.
“I thought Ed (White) had it in hand,” Schiring said. “He three-putted the last hole and I made a birdie to win. It was one of those things you don’t expect to happen.”
Schiring said his rounds were definitely of the roller coaster variety. “I had a lot of birdies and a lot of bogeys the first day,” he said. “Then (Sunday) we hit from the wrong tee marker on the first hole and started off with two-stroke penalties.”
Things didn’t get better until the turn. “I was five-over on the front but managed to put a band-aid on the bad shots and played three-under on the back so at least I finished strong. Can’t we just forget about the front nine?”
He said with five wins this season, he likes where his game is.
“I’m playing pretty well but I need to work on my short game just a little,” he said. “I don’t think it’s where it needs to be. That’s what cost me a few bogeys on Saturday.”
Gordon Schiring, 73-74—147
Ed White, 74-74—148
Jon Turk, 75-75—150
Jim O’Hare won his second straight SNGA event despite struggling in the second round.
“I thought I threw it away today,” said O’Hare, who is battling Stage 4 prostate cancer. “With the chemicals they have me on I’ve lost 30 yards on my driver. That makes a long course even longer. This was a tough day.”
But, he was up for the battle–both on and off the course.
“That chemical makes me weak, but so far, so good,” he said of his cancer fight. “I’m just trying to keep my game up. It certainly gives you a little perspective on life. All of a sudden it’s not that big of a deal when you miss a four-footer.”
He admitted he struggled coming home, but he fought through.
“The energy just wasn’t there at the end,” he said. “There was fatigue but I managed to hold on.”
He added his short game is still tip-top. “I may have lost distance with a lot of my clubs, but get me around the green and I’m good to go,” he said.
Jim O’Hare, 70-73—143
John Bobroski, 74-73—147
David Golder, 70-79—149
Steven Fink won an SNGA event for the second time in 2019, posting back-to-back rounds of two-under-par 70 for a four-stroke victory.
“I did play well this weekend,” Fink said. “I’m pleased with where my game is. I’m working hard to improve my game and I’m seeing some good results.”
He said his putting was good…kind of. “I was pleased with the way I was putting but it seemed like nothing was falling,” he said. “It was a little frustrating not getting many putts to drop. But I tried to stay positive and patient.”
He said his start on Sunday was the key. “I birdied the first three holes,” he said. “They are definitely gettable holes and I was fortunate enough to get a few putts to drop. I felt like I putted better the second day but the numbers don’t bear that out. But, that’s golf.”
He said the 17th hole was pivotal. “I hit it into a penalty area,” he said. “I was lucky enough to be able to hit it because if I would have had to drop it that would have left me with a difficult shot. I hit it to about 21 feet and made it to save par. That was a fun par to make.”
Steven Fink, 70-70-140
Steve Wilson, 74-70—144
Kevin Parrish, 74-72—146
Walter Sabati made it two SNGA tiles in 2019 after overcoming a back injury. That’s bad news for the rest of the field as he posted a seven-shot victory.
Sabati trailed by three after the first day but a sizzling second round saw him breeze to the victory.
“I putted really well and scrambled really well,” he said.
He said the back injury, while it is improving, can still be problematic.
“The first couple of holes it’s still a little sore but then everything kicked in and I played well,” he said. “I just try to keep a smooth tempo and not over-swing.”
His play on the greens has also been a key. “I spend a lot of time on the putting green,” he said. “I switched putters and went to a claw grip. It’s really helped my putting tremendously. Now I’ve got a lot more confidence on the 4-to-5 foot putts.”
Walter Sabati, 69-63—132
Michael Yoder, 68-71—139
Les Eastman, 67-72—139