John Turk (Senior) and Frank Ellenburg (Silver) won titles in the gross divisions of the 2019 Las Vegas Senior City Amateur while Bobby Hakes (Senior) and Tony Troilo (Silver) won net championships in the tournament held Oct. 24-25, 2019, at the historic Las Vegas Golf Club. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider.
Something clicked in John Turk’s game overnight.
Turk, following an opening-round three-over-par 75, carded a bogey-free, 9-under-par 63 to rally and win the Senior title by one shot. It was Turk’s fifth SNGA title of the year.
Turk trailed by six shots heading into the final round before reeling off seven birdies and an eagle on the second day.
“I stepped up to the first tee and said I’m either going to shoot 63 or 83,” he said with a laugh. “I had nothing to lose.”
He added focus was the key. “I was very aggressive,” he said. “I was whaling on the ball and luckily it went where I was aiming it today. And I obviously made some putts.”
He said trailing in the tournament took the pressure off. “The pressure wasn’t on me,” he said. “It was on everyone else. I knew I had to go low. I had nothing to lose. I could take aim at every pin.”
He added he and his golf ball had a little chat as well. “I played with the same ball both days,” he said. “Eighteen holes yesterday and 18 holes today. We came to an understanding today and both did our jobs.”
Turk put the 63 into perspective. “I shot four strokes under my age…that’s pretty good,” he said.
John Turk, 75-63—138
Rich Morrison, 70-69—139
Douglas Pool, 69-71—140
Bobby Hakes said being healthy again is much more impressive than winning the Senior Net title.
“I’m finally getting healthy again and back to playing golf,” he said after overcoming a severe neck injury that has kept him off the golf course for five years. “Being healthy again is a million times better than winning a golf tournament.”
He said the injury put all golf thoughts on hold. “I tried everything,” he said of his health battle. “I lost strength and went five years without playing golf. It was a battle.”
Then came his miracle. “It was a miracle,” he said of the start of the healing process. “My spine was reverse curved. I started getting traction that bent my spine straighter to get it curving the correct way.”
Now, he’s back.
“I hit the ball insanely well,” he said of his two days. “But I putted horrendously. In the first 11 holes the first day I missed nine putts inside of 10 feet. I was frustrated to the max. It had me screaming out of my body.”
He took extreme measures. “This is a dead-true story,” he said. “After I missed all those putts I decided on the 12th hole to putt with my eyes closed. I putted with my eyes closed the rest of the round and putted with my eyes closed today. And I putted better.”
Bobby Hakes, 67-63—130
Jim Licausi, 68-68—136
Dave Golder, 70-67—137
Frank Ellenburg’s latest golf outing to Las Vegas paid off in winning his first SNGA title.
“I’ve only played in two SNGA events, this one last year and then again this year,” the Phoenix-area resident said. He met friends–one from Pennsylvania, one from Virginia and one from Tucson–in Las Vegas to rehash their lives over the last year.
“We played last year and decided to do it again this year,” he said. “Who knows, we’d like to make this a yearly thing if all of our health holds up. It’s just guys I’ve met through golf. We came to Vegas, had dinner, played a little golf and got caught up on what’s been going on.”
Winning the event, he said, was icing on the cake.
“I drove it very well but I putted very poorly,” he said. “I had three three-putts coming in so I was leaking oil.”
But there were plenty of bright spots. “I was hitting it pretty solid both days,” he said. “I kept it in play and wasn’t in any jeopardy of putting up big numbers.”
He added the SNGA events are a joy to play. “Everyone I’ve met has just been super nice,” he said. “And I couldn’t have asked for a better group to play in. And Frank (Abbott) has as good a short game as anyone I’ve seen. If I had his short game, wow.”
Frank Ellenburg, 71-72—143
Steven Fink, 73-72—145
Frank Abbot, 73-73—146
Tony Troilo also won an SNGA event for the first time in 15 years, winning the Silver Net title by three strokes.
I had a son (Xavier, 13) late in life and haven’t been playing much golf at all,” he said. “He plays baseball and it seems like he has a tournament every weekend.”
In fact, if not for bad luck, Troilo probably wouldn’t have played in this event.
“Xavier broke his collarbone so I’ve had the chance to play a little more golf,” he said.
He won a couple of tournaments early in his career but said this was his first major.
“I played in a lot of these tournaments way back,” he said. “I hit the ball about the same now as I did then but I’m putting better. I found a couple of things in my putting stroke. (Wednesday) I putted very well but today was a little bit of a grind. I did make a birdie on the last hole so that was good. I had an eagle putt and left it seven-feet short. Somehow I did make the birdie putt.”
Tony Troilo, 63-69—132
Al Kueker, 71-64—135
Dave Haddock, 70-66—136