Gordan Brixi (Championship), Todd Roberts (Senior) and Jeffrey English (Silver) won gross titles in the 2020 SNGA Tour stop at Chimera Golf Club on May 19, 2020. Steve Johnson (Net), James Kim (Senior) and Peter Bartmus (Silver) were the net champions. This was the first SNGA golf tournament to be held since the coronavirus pandemic halted sports and other activities. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
Gordan Brixi won for the first time in SNGA Tour play, breezing to a six-shot victory in the Championship Division after posting a five-under-par 67. Brixi, who is heading to UNLV to play golf this fall, bogeyed the fourth hole before posting birdies on six of his final 14.
“It was definitely windy,” he said. “It made it a bit challenging but I managed my game well and controlled my ball flight. Overall it was a solid round.”
Brixi, who is originally from the Czech Republic, found his way to Las Vegas and UNLV and is thrilled about becoming a Rebel this fall.
“My goal was always to play college golf,” he said. “And this is a great opportunity. UNLV is a great program and I’m excited to get started.”
He said his overall game is in top form despite having time off.
“I didn’t do anything special today…everything was pretty solid,” he said. “But I think there’s always room for improvement in your game and my goal is to just try to get better every day at everything.”
And he was also thankful for the chance to get back out on the golf course.
“It’s great to be back playing again,” he said. “I appreciate the SNGA staff and Chimera Golf Club for allowing us to come back. They did a great job. All of the safety precautions were in place. It was a great way to get competitive golf back up and running.”
Gordan Brixi, 67
Brady Exber, 73
Kenny Ebalo, 73
Steve Johnson had a net eagle on the first hole and never looked back in posting a three-shot victory in the Net Division. Johnson added five birdies to his scorecard with just a lone bogey.
It was Johnson’s second victory in SNGA Tour play coming after winning in March 2019 at Painted Desert. He was also second, in a scorecard playoff, in the Net Division at the SNGA Tournament of Champions earlier this year.
He said the key to this victory was a unique one.
“I really drove it well,” he said. “That’s where I usually have trouble…if it’s windy. I’ll drive it squirrely and get myself in trouble. But today I think I hit all of my drives pretty well except one.”
Johnson, who works in the trade show business, suddenly finds himself with a little more time to work on his game. That’s both good and bad.
“I hadn’t played in a lot of the SNGA tournaments because of work,” he said. “But now with trade shows hit pretty hard, it’s let me get out on the course a little more.”
He added he knows he’s not alone.
“It’s going to take a lot to get people back into the hotels,” he said. “But, we’re all in this together and until they get it all figured out we’re going to be waiting in the wings to see what’s next.”
Steve Johnson, 66
Michael Godfrey, 69
Trevor Cross, 71
Todd Roberts again finds himself in the winner’s circle, posting a five-shot victory in the Senior Division.
The victory saw Roberts post three birdies and no bogeys on the windy day.
“It was pretty amazing,” Roberts said of his round. “I think I’ve played four times since March 15 and three times I played well and one time I played bad. I don’t usually play a lot in January, February and March so it didn’t bother me that much. Somehow today I was in good form.”
He said he was mindful of every shot. “I was really patient and very focused the whole time,” he said. “Usually there are times I’m not.”
Roberts added his short-game work has provided a spark.
“I’ve been hitting it pretty good but my short game was really, really good which was surprising,” he said. “I’ve gone from chipping it to from three to six feet to chipping it to within three feet so that’s good. There’s a big percentage swing from three-feet-and-in to six-feet-and-in and it’s made a big difference.”
He also found out he’s now a fan of putting with the pin in.
“That’s been an amazing thing,” he said. “I didn’t want to putt with the pin in … I was one of those purists. But now I don’t know if I’ll go back to pulling the pin. I felt like I’ve made a few more short putts and now I’m thinking ‘maybe it’s not so bad.’ ”
Todd Roberts, 69
David Koch, 74
Craig Edwards, 76
James Kim won for the first time in SNGA play, posting a three-stroke victory in the Senior Net Division.
It wasn’t easy.
“I managed to be just one-over on the front nine until hole nine,” he said. “I hit a beautiful drive and had 80 yards to the pin. But with the wind against me I put two shots into the water and I ended up with an eight.”
He didn’t let that deter him.
“I had five birdies which I’m happy about,” he said. “I always play at Muni (Las Vegas Golf Club) and that way I can keep my play consistent.”
He said he just tried to stay in the moment.
“The key for me is focus on mental function,” he said. “I just try to relax under the pressure.”
He said he still knows he has work to do.
“My short game wasn’t good,” he said. “It is the weakest part of my game especially into the wind.”
James Kim, 74
Tony Caiazzo, 77
Brian Freymueller, 78
Jeffrey English took off right where he left off earlier in the year. English, who won the 2020 Tournament of Champions in February, won the Silver Division in a three-way scorecard playoff.
“I was pretty steady for the most part,” said the retired lawyer and magistrate. “I missed some putts I should have made and I made some putts I shouldn’t have but overall I was happy.”
He also said the final hole was crucial to his victory.
“I got up-and-down from a bad spot so that was good,” he said. “I made about a 15-footer that wound up being big.”
He added he’s becoming a fan of playing in tough conditions.
“It was really windy and cold at the Tournament of Champions and it was really windy today so I guess I’m just becoming a good wind player,” he said.
Overall, he was happy with his play. “I didn’t hit in anywhere in trouble,” he said. “I kept it in the fairway and on or near the green for the most part.”
Jeffrey English, 78
Al Kueker, 78
Jim Cail, 78
Peter Bartmus also won for the first time in SNGA Tour play, posting a one-shot victory.
He said the time off as everyone deals with the coronavirus seemed to help his game.
“To be honest I haven’t touched a club in two months,” he said. “I had a practice round on Thursday and one on Monday but that’s been it. I guess when I lay off for a long time I’m not over-thinking everything. Maybe that’s what caused the calmness today.
That and his short game.
“I have to say my chipping helped me more than my putting,” he said. “And on the front side I hit a lot of greens and that’s a big plus for me. And I stayed out of the sand. That’s good because that’s always a nemesis for me.”
He added he played well on his front side but then struggled a little on the back.
“I shot 41 on the front and stayed out of trouble,” he said. “On the other side I had two lost balls and that’s never good. One of them I hit it into a bush on a par-3 about 20 yards in front of the tee box. It was a big, bushy thing and I said ‘I’m not going to look for that’ and I hit another.”
Peter Bartmus, 71
Walter Sabati, 72
Jack Schwartz, 74