Only champions need apply. That was the case as the best of the best teed it up at the SNGA’s 2020 opening event, the Tournament of Champions. More than 90 men and women golfers battled for eight titles Feb. 3, 2020, at DragonRidge Country Club. Plus, it was a day when everyone came together in a celebration of Southern Nevada golf, and even the cold and windy weather couldn’t hinder that spirit. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
Kenny Ebalo fired a one-over-par 73 in winning the Championship Division.
Ebalo, who is entering his second year as the SNGA president, played a limited scheduled of SNGA events in 2019 as he acclimated himself to the presidency.
Now, he’s back…well, at least he will be at times. After all, duty calls.
“I took the time last year to learn more about the operations side and work with it,” he said. “I watched the SNGA working on growing the events. As much as I wanted to play, I felt it was more important to learn the ropes.”
At the Tournament of Champions, Ebalo held off Daren Johnson for the title.
“It was very difficult out there,” he said of the cold and windy conditions. “It was a shame. But Mother Nature threw everything she had at us.”
He said the key was on the greens. “I putted really well,” he said. “I made some putts I really shouldn’t have and with it being a tough day you know you’ve got to make 5-6 footers all day.”
Ebalo is looking forward to playing more events in 2020.
“I’ve had success in the SNGA before and I was the Player of the Year (2014) so I’ve missed playing,” he said. “And I especially missed playing in some of the events I haven’t won before. That’s the real bummer was not playing in some of those events.”
Kenny Ebalo, 73
Daren Johnson, 74
Grant McKay, 78
John Horton won in a scorecard playoff over Steve Johnson to win the Net title.
Horton had three natural birdies as well as a net birdie to post the victory.
John Horton, 77
Steve Johnson, 77
Marty Weinberg, 79
Brady Exber started off 2020 in familiar surroundings…the winner’s circle.
Exber, who won once in two starts in 2019 and is a 9-time Player of the Year, said the conditions were definitely a challenge.
“It just seems like this event draws bad weather every year…no exceptions,” Exber said. “With weather this bad you just try to survive.”
Exber also has a unique way to cope with playing in bad weather.
“I allow myself to hit bad shots and don’t get upset,” he said. “You have to allow for bad shots because everyone’s going to hit them.”
Exber only recorded one birdie during the round but still had a positive attitude.
“It’s wintertime golf,” he said. “My expectations right now are pretty low. I haven’t played much golf recently.”
Brady Exber, 77
Kelly Knievel, 82
Todd Roberts, 82
David Golder had back-to-back net birdies on the front and back nines to hold on for the Senior Net crown.
Golder won in 2019 at the SNGA Tour’s stop at Arroyo Golf Club.
David Golder, 81
Gordon Schiring, 82
Scott Gardner, 82
Jeffrey English used a stellar one-over-par 37 on the front nine to hold on for the Silver Division title.
English won the 2019 SNGA Tour-Royal Links event in 2019.
Jeffrey English, 80
Kevin Parrish, 81
Frank Abbott, 82
Ron Clabaugh won a scorecard playoff to win the Silver Net championship.
Clabaugh had one birdie (net eagle) to highlight his back-nine score of 3-over-par 39.
Ron Clabaugh, 76
Jack Schwartz, 76
Bo McDaniell, 80
Ronda Henderson survived to win the women’s championship title.
“Considering the conditions, I wasn’t that unhappy with the round,” she said. “If I look at the score, it’s not great but in conjunction with the playing conditions it’s OK.”
She said the weather didn’t affect her play that much. “I struck the ball beautifully,” she said. “But I had two four putts, three three putts and four birdies so I certainly didn’t putt that consistently.”
In the end, she said it perfectly: “It was survival of the fittest,” she said. “All of us were frozen. It’s one thing to play in the wind when it is 80 degrees but it’s another thing to play when it’s windy and 45. ”
Ronda Henderson, 79
Regina Quintero, 80
Debbie Love, 82
Margie Cashwell was shocked to find out she won the women’s net title.
“I’m flabbergasted,” she said. “I came out with no expectations. I never expect to play well in these conditions.”
She said she was happy with her consistency. “I didn’t have any disaster holes and made a couple of good putts,” she said. “I had two double bogeys and two birdies…one of them was a chip-in. But it was my putting that didn’t let me down.”
Margie Cashwell, 69
Masako Brown, 74
Theresa Prospero, 75