As the SNGA continues to practice social distancing while taking small steps to normalcy, several worthy champions were crowned at the Boulder City Amateur. Kenny Ebalo (Championship), Steve Fink (Senior) and Frank Acker (Silver) won gross championships while Greg Pyszko (Net), Joe Rada (Senior) and Peter Bartmus (Silver) were the net division winners at Boulder Creek Golf Club and Boulder City Golf Course. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
Kenny Ebalo was as surprised as anyone to win the Championship Division title, his second victory in 2020. Ebalo also won the season-opening Tournament of Champions event in February.
Ebalo, president of the SNGA, trailed Brady Exber by four shots heading into the final round but wound up with a four-shot victory putting together rounds of 71-69.
“Starting the day, I was just hoping to shoot a good round and be close near the end,” Ebalo said. “When you’re trying to chase down Brady you never think he’s going to come back to you.”
Ebalo has made it his goal to play a few more events in the second year of his presidency. That’s bad news for the rest of the field.
“I’m excited,” Ebalo said. “Winning is the cure-all for everything. I had some time off and I enjoy the practice part of getting better. But it was great to get back out here.”
He added his game isn’t all rosy as he had a roller coaster two rounds, recording 11 birdies and seven bogeys.
“I just didn’t putt well,” he said. “If I missed a green I didn’t get it up and down. The back nine (Sunday) I started to make some putts and got on a stretch where I made putts over 12 feet over three straight holes.”
Ebalo, putting his president’s hat back on, said it is good to see a variety of winners in SNGA events.
“We’re better off when we have all of our better players playing all the time,” he said. “When we get 8-9-10 guys deep, it’s great. As much as I would love to win every event, it would be a dream to have a different player win each week.”
Kenny Ebalo, 71-69—140
Brady Exber, 67-77—144
Aarjav Patel, 74-70—144
Greg Pyszko first’s SNGA victory didn’t come without a little doubt creeping into his mind.
Pyszko, who was playing in just his third SNGA event, said he played steady for both days…with one exception. And it could have cost him.
“I hit a driver through the fairway on No. 9 and had to take a drop,” he said. “Then I hit my third shot and had to take another drop. I wound up with a triple bogey.”
But he didn’t let it dampen his confidence as he posted three birdies and a net eagle on the back nine to hold on for the win.
“I really kept my composure,” he said. “There have been plenty of times when I’ve blown up and taken a big number after a bad hole but today I was able to settle down pretty quickly.”
Overall, he said his driver was the key to the victory.
“I only got in trouble one time,” he said. “I hit about 50 percent of the greens and got up and down pretty well. I also made a couple of 15-footers so overall it was a pretty solid tournament.”
Greg Pyszko, 72-68—140
Bryan Carlon, 76-66—142
Jerry Algeo, 77-66—143
Steve Fink saved the best for last in winning the Senior Division title.
Fink birdied three holes on the back nine on Sunday with no bogeys to post a one-shot victory in the Senior Division.
It was his first SNGA win of 2020 after posting three victories in 2019.
“I’m stupefied,” Fink said. “I’m still having a hard time believing I won.”
Fink said he was proud of overcoming a tough battle over the two days.
“I felt like I really struggled for the first 27 holes,” he said. “I was pleased to at least hang in there (Saturday) and not play myself out of it.”
Fink shot a 40 on the front nine of the opening day and rallied for an even-par back nine. He again struggled on the first nine during the final round before his 3-under-par back nine.
“I tend not to give up and I grind it out,” he said. “Knowing anything can happen keeps me focused.”
He said he also relied on his past performance at the Boulder City courses.
“I do have fond memories out here,” he said. “I won the Clark County Amateur out here in ’05 (rallying from a four-shot deficit) so I like it out here.”
Steve Fink, 76-72—148
Kevin Parrish, 77-72—149
Chris Whatley, 79-70—149
For Joe Rada, winning is starting to become a bit more of a habit.
Rada won the Senior Net title in the 2019 Clark County Amateur which ended a two-plus year victory drought for him.
Now he’s back for more. “I just putted very well inside of 10 feet both days,” he said. “I only missed one putt and that was when I three-putted for par.”
Overall, he said his game was solid despite the layoff.
“I hit the ball well and just played good golf,” he said. “And I putted well both days.”
This was his 20th win in SNGA action over the years and his sixth win at Boulder City/Boulder Creek.
“I don’t know why but these courses set up well for me,” he said.
He added the time off is par for the course for him.
“I haven’t played in 2½ months,” he said. “The last two weekends I hit balls twice and that was it. It was kind of amazing for it all to come together.”
Joe Rada, 73-71—144
David Golder, 76-71—147
Gordon Schiring, 75-75—150
Frank Acker birdied three of his first five holes on Sunday as well as three of his final five holes to post a six-shot victory in the Silver Division.
It was Acker’s second victory of 2020 after winning four times in 2019.
Acker said the tournament result was much closer than the final score indicates.
“We were tied through 13 holes,” Acker said. “(Dario Gonzales) made a par on 14 and I made a birdie. Then he made a double on 15 and I made birdie so I picked up four shots in two holes.”
Acker said Sunday’s round was quite different from Saturday.
“I hit the ball horrible (Saturday),” he said. “I hit everything left, left, left. I practiced a little after the round and got it fixed a little. It wasn’t great today, but I made a few putts and my confidence got a little better. I got the ball going in the right direction.”
Frank Acker, 75-68—143
Dario Gonzales, 74-75—149
Mark Dopheide, 80-70—150
Peter Bartmus made it two victories in five days as he won the Silver Net Division by two strokes. He also won the Silver Net Division title in last week’s SNGA Tour event at Chimera.
“I guess I snuck another one in, huh,” he said with a laugh. “I certainly didn’t play well today. I had to take five penalty shots. I had three unplayabe lies and two shots in the water. I also had bunker problems. I tried to stay out of trouble but it found me.”
He said the time off from tournament play may have helped his game, but in a surprising way.
“I guess I got a little stronger working in the garden,” he said. “I developed some strength and started hitting shots more consistently. I’m a little more physically fit and I seem to be staying in better rhythm.”
Peter Bartmus, 67-74—141
John Kelley, 72-71—143
Jeffrey English, 78-68—146