Daren Johnson (Championship), Todd Roberts (Senior) and Mark Dopheide (Silver) won gross division titles in the season-ending 2019 SNGA Winter Classic held Dec. 14-15, 2019, at Cascata, a beautiful Rees Jones design. Dennis Young (Net), Edward Hughes (Senior) and Mark Griffin (Silver) were net division champs. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
The tournament was played using the modified Stableford scoring system.
Daren Johnson won for the third time in 2019, breezing to a 17-point victory.
Johnson birdied five holes on the front nine as he quickly erased a two-shot deficit heading into the second day.
“I had a great round today,” he said. “I struggled (Saturday) leaving myself on the wrong side of the hole and had to putt defensively the whole day.”
Day 2 was different. “I had a talk with myself (Saturday) night,” he said. “I made myself aware I needed to hit quality tee shots and get myself in position to hit spots on the green where I would be able to be aggressive putting.”
Mission accomplished. “I only had 27 putts (Sunday),” he said. “Today’s overall round was probably my best round of the year…especially considering the conditions. It was windy and cold.”
Johnson is working on his game as he works toward what he hopes is a professional career. He graduated from Holy Names University in Oakland after playing there for two years. He also coached at the school while working on his masters in marketing.
Daren Johnson, 42 points
Andrew Ganey, 25
Ryan Bolton, 23
Dennis Young scored 24 points during Sunday’s second round to rally for the Net Division title. It was his first SNGA victory and it came in the final event of 2019.
Young was nine points behind heading into the final round and tied for sixth before vaulting up the leaderboard on Sunday.
Young was unavailable for comment.
Dennis Young, 38 points
Aaron Bartels, 36
Trevor Cross, 35
Todd Roberts closed out 2019 with his seventh win of the year.
This time he won by eight points after building a big first-day lead.
“It was a tough day to putt (Sunday),” he said. “It was just hard to make putts.”
Roberts was cruising along on the final day until his 15th hole of the round, the par-4 10th. “I was in pretty good shape,” he said. “Then I drove it 60 yards from the green on No. 10. I had a downhill, downwind shot. It was tricky and I chunked it. Then I hit a terrible pitch shot and three putted. It was my only double bogey of the tournament.”
Despite the struggles on the hole, Roberts wound up winning by eight points and picked up his second straight Player of the Year title.
“It was a strange year,” he said. “I didn’t accomplish some of the biggest goals I wanted…like winning the state senior for the third straight year. I wanted to win majors and I didn’t do that. Player of the Year was the last big goal.”
He said his strong finish to the season helps his confidence heading into 2020.
“Anytime you win Player of the Year twice in a row it’s tough to complain,” he said. “I wasn’t quite as consistent as last year. I was in position to score better this year than I did.”
He said one of the reasons was a change off the tee. “This year I tried to make changes with the driver and it hurt me more than it helped me,” he said. “But it’s certainly something I can work on to keep improving.”
Todd Roberts, 38 points
Jed Shreve, 30
John Turk, 29
Portland’s Edward Hughes won his first SNGA event in his first SNGA event.
“A buddy of mine is a (SNGA) member and he told me to sign up to be a member and come down and play golf with him,” he said. “So I flew down from Portland. It was really nice to get out in the sun and play some golf.”
It was the first time he had seen Cascata. It left a good impression.
“I kept the ball in the fairways and really stayed out of trouble and on this course that was a good thing,” he said. “And I made some clutch putts when I needed them.”
He said the par-5 18th, which he played early in his round, left a lasting impression. “We played it early in the round,” he said. “I got off to a little shaky start but birdied that hole to get me going. I had a lot of pars after that and with a 14 handicap, I got through it OK.”
He warned the other SNGA members: “It was my first ever event, but I think I’ll have to come back for a few more.”
Edward Hughes, 31 points
Brian Freymueller, 30
Martin Azzolina, 30
Mark Dopheide won an SNGA event for the first time in 2019 after three wins in 2018.
He’s been on the podium numerous times in 2019 and said it’s about time he won.
“I’ve played pretty well the last month,” he said. “Now I have something to show for it.”
He said his second round was the key. “(Saturday) I had a couple of double bogeys and in this format, those really hurt,” he said. “(Sunday) I parred both of those holes so that really kept me positive.”
He said he did a little worrying toward the end of the final round. “I was pretty calm both days,” he said. “But on a couple of holes down the stretch I started to think about it…I started thinking there was a chance I could win. Those thoughts creep into your mind and it’s tough not to think about it.”
But in the end, his round was solid. “I just made a conscious effort to keep the ball in play,” he said. “If there was any doubt about a shot, I went with the smart shot. I didn’t have any doubles and only one three-putt green. For me, that was remarkable.”
Mark Dopheide, 34 points
Ken Samuel, 32
Patrick Woerner, 23
Mark Griffin is taking quite a liking to playing at Cascata.
Griffin has won in the last two SNGA tournaments at the course, winning the gross title back in August and winning the net title this time out.
“I really love the greens,” he said. “They are slick and I love to putt greens like these.”
He did have to overcome a few bad holes for the win. “(Saturday) I had four birdies and three doubles. That’s not good. (Sunday) I didn’t have any doubles. Losing two points when you make a double certainly hurts the score.”
He said his wedge game is the key to his success. “For me I like these kinds of courses,” he said. “I carry five wedges so get me inside of 135 yards and it makes it a lot easier. I want to be able to take a full shot and with five wedges it makes it easier when I get in the scoring area.”
He said it was a pretty solid weekend…with one exception. “I usually make a lot of birdies but not today,” he said. “I missed the putts today and had a couple of three putts and I don’t usually three-putt.”
Mark Griffin, 43 points
Mike Lee, 38
Greg Levitt, 38