Golf Stories2020 Henderson Amateur Champs: Hiramoto, Knievel, Acker, Bartels, Freymueller, Herrell

February 10, 2020by Brian Hurlburt0

Seichu Hiramoto (Championship), Kelly Knievel (Senior) and Frank Acker (Silver) won gross titles at the 2020 Henderson Amateur played at Revere Golf Club on Feb. 8-9, 2020. Aaron Bartels (Net), Brian Freymueller (Senior) and Tony Herrell (Silver) were net champions. Hiramoto, from Japan, put on a strong display to win by 11 strokes. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.

Championship

Seichu Hiramoto started off the weekend red-hot, shooting six-under-par 30 on his first nine of the tournament, and cruised to an 11-shot victory in the Championship Division.

It was Hiramoto’s first SNGA victory in his first event as he is visiting friends in Las Vegas. His first-nine scoring included a pair of eagles as well as two birdies.

“My iron shots and tee shots were very good,” Hiramoto said through his friend and translator, Yuki Moriyama (who finished second). “I just couldn’t make many putts.”

He said his first round was definitely a surprise. “Since I holed out on No. 9 for an eagle to end up at six-under-par for that nine, I was very happy,” he said. “I was able to also play well on the back nine and shoot 8-under-par. After the first five holes when I was four-under I thought I could really shoot a good score.”

Hiramoto is in Las Vegas visiting Moriyama and his plans were simple. “He is from Japan,” Moriyama said. “He is just visiting me to play golf, see the Strip and have some fun.”

Hiramoto said the overall tournament experience was a good one. “I would love to come back and compete with other good players,” he said. “Even though I don’t speak English everyone was very nice to me. I really enjoyed the tournament. I’m happy and proud with how I played.”

Championship

Seichu Hiramoto, 64-73—137

Yuki Moriyama, 67-81—148

Mason Snyder, 73-76—149

Greg Hudson, 70-79—149

Net

Aaron Bartels held a four-shot lead after the first round of the Net Division race and held on for a three-stroke victory.

It was Bartels’ first SNGA title and bested his previous best finish as he was runnerup in the 2019 Winter Classic in December, 2019.

“I’ve been working with Bob May on my game,” Bartels said. “And he’s always said to just visualize the shot you want to hit and execute the shot. Don’t worry about anything else. Then go find the ball and do it again.”

He added he also is working on staying in the moment. “I focused on that routine for every shot,” he said. “I just tried to be smart about every shot.”

Bartels grew up working on a golf course in Illinois. “I worked there for seven summers,” he said of his time at Indian Springs Golf Course. “It was a 9-hole course cut into a farm pasture. There’s no chance a PGA Tour event will ever be held there.”

Now he’s a member at TPC Summerlin and working on his game. “I joined there two years ago and said I was going to have fun with golf again,” he said. “I didn’t want to get too high or too low and just want to be thankful to be spending time out on the golf course.”

Net

Aaron Bartels, 67-74—141

Bryan Carlon, 71-73—144

Jesus Medina, 71-75—146

Senior

Kelly Knievel held on to win the Senior title, his first win of 2020 after a pair of victories in 2019. His wins in 2019 were his first in more than 15 years of SNGA events.

Knievel had five birdies the first day and held a one-stroke lead. He stumbled coming home with a four-over-par 40 on the back nine Sunday but birdied the final hole to close out the victory.

Senior

Kelly Knievel, 70-76—146

Kevin Parrish, 77-72—149

James Corey, 71-78—149

Senior Net

Brian Freymueller’s final day of the tournament couldn’t have started off any worse…but it couldn’t have ended much better as Freymueller recorded his second SNGA victory after winning late in 2019.

“I played really well (Saturday),” he said. “I was happy with every part of my game. I did have a couple of three putts and a few putts I would have liked to try again, but it was a pretty good day.”

Then came Sunday’s front nine holes. “I shot 45 on the front nine and was really (upset) with how I was playing. I flew a par-3 into a hazard (on No. 8) and wound up getting a six and walked off the green really (upset).”

Then, it all turned around.

“I came back with a par on No. 9, birdied 10 and eagled 11 so that made up for the triple a few holes earlier,” he said. “Once I got the positive momentum going I thought, all right, just keep it in play and see what happens.”

What happened was simple in his eyes. “I wasn’t putting the ball in bad places like on the front nine,” he said. “I kept it in play and came out on top. I’m really happy with that.”

Senior Net

Brian Freymueller, 71-71—142

David Golder, 77-71—148

Nicholas Bock, 69-80—149

Silver

Frank Acker put together back-to-back rounds of two-over-par 74 to win the Senior title by four strokes over Mark Griffin.

Acker won four times in 2019, three times in the Senior Division and one time in the Silver Division. His Silver Division title was the 2019 Tour Championship in December.

“This (win) was pretty good,” he said. “I played pretty good today and it was rough out there.”

Acker said the windy conditions put him into a cautious mode. “I played it fairly safely,” he said. “I just tried to hit the fairway and then put it somewhere on the green. I didn’t want to make any big mistakes. Somehow I managed to pull it off.”

He added despite the victory, there’s still work to be done on his game.

“My ball-striking was actually very good,” he said. “But my short game was horrible. Twice I didn’t even chip it on the green from maybe 20 feet away. Usually I’m looking to get it up and down pretty easily and maybe even chip one or two in. But not right now.”

Acker added that those kind of woes are just, well, par for the course.

“Golf is a game we spend a lifetime working on,” he said.

Silver

Frank Acker, 74-74—148

Mark Griffin, 74-78—152

John Garrett, 78-78—156

Silver Net

Tony Herrell is back in the SNGA’s winner’s circle for the first time in two years, posting a three-stroke victory in the Silver Net Division.

Herrell was tied for the lead after the first round with Christopher Gibson, both with opening round 68s, but Herrell posted a one-over-par 73 en route to the victory.

“I had a win a couple of years ago but didn’t play SNGA events at all last year,” he said. “It’s good to be back playing.”

He said the key to his win was a little unusual. “Silk underwear,” he said with a laugh.

He said his composure was the actual key. “I had a couple of sevens but overall I did pretty well staying conservative and keeping my focus,” he said.

He said his tee shots made the difference. “My driver kept me going,” he said. “I hit it pretty long and solid most of the time. That was definitely a key. If you hit the driver well on each hole, you’re off to a good start.”

Silver Net

Tony Herrell, 68-73—141

Christopher Gibson, 68-76—144

Les Eastman, 72-76—148

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Brian Hurlburt

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