Brady Exber (Championship), Kelly Knievel (Senior) and Jeffrey English (Silver) came away with gross titles in the 2020 SNGA Tour Bear’s Best event played June 18, 2020. Trevor Coss (Net), David Koch (Senior) and Scott Walker (Silver) were net champions. The event was held at Bear’s Best Golf Club. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
This is one tournament Brady Exber didn’t figure he would win. After all, he was trailing by two strokes on the 18th hole. But he recorded a par while leader Kenny Ebalo double bogeyed the hole leaving the pair tied. Exber won the title in a scorecard playoff.
For the round, Exber had three birdies and two bogeys in what he called an ‘average’ round in his first SNGA win of the year.
He’s learned that it’s never over until the final putt drops.
“I didn’t know where I stood in the (18th) fairway,” Exber said. “Kenny was playing in front of me and I saw him make a nice putt but then he fired the ball into the lake. I thought ‘uh oh that’s not good.’ Then I found out he hit it in the lake and had to drop in the bunker so that’s a problem. I didn’t know any of that until I was done.”
Exber said his play was solid, but not spectacular. “I thought I played pretty well,” he said. “I drove it well and just didn’t make any big mistakes. I didn’t make any putts until No. 11 when I made a nice birdie and then another good one on 14.”
Exber said he knows Ebalo’s pain. “I feel bad for Kenny,” he said. “I’ve lost tournaments like that and it’s not a good feeling.”
Overall, Exber said the win will hopefully get his game moving in the right direction.
“My game is kind of rusty,” he said. “It’s not real sharp, but it’s getting better. I can tell by the quality of the shots…not the scores…that things are getting better.”
Brady Exber, 71
Kenny Ebalo, 71
Landon Shultz, 73
Trevor Coss won for the first time in SNGA play, putting up five straight net birdies to open the round en route to a seven-shot victory.
Coss’ previous best finish was a second in the SNGA Championship at Cascata in 2018.
“I’ve been getting closer the last couple of events,” he said. “I think I finished third and fourth but just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Thursday he did just that.
“This was pretty special,” he said of his sizzling start. “At that point I just wanted to play solid and thought I would be OK and have a chance.”
There were still a few hiccups along the way, but even those didn’t dampen his positive play.
“On hole No. 14 I hit it into the desert and wound up with a triple bogey,” he said. “But I made my seven by making a 15-footer so that still gave me some confidence. I could have lost another stroke but didn’t so I didn’t let it get me down.”
Coss said his putting was the key to the win. “I had just 27 putts which I thought was pretty good,” he said. “It just seemed like when I got in trouble, boom, a 12-footer would drop.”
Trevor Coss, 67
Larry Berlinger, 74
Michael Haas, 74
Kelly Knievel played a three-hole stretch in four-under par early in the back nine and raced to his fourth SNGA victory in 2020.
Knievel was two-over-par on his front nine and parred the 10th before going birdie, eagle, birdie to get back into the winner’s circle.
“I hit my irons good all day,” he said. “I chipped in (from just off the green) on the par-5 (for eagle) and made a couple of birdies. I also left a couple of other birdie putts short that were right in the heart.”
Despite the win, there were a couple of miscues.
“I pulled the pin out of the hole by mistake and incurred a two-stroke penalty,” he said. “But it worked out OK. All’s well that ends well, right?”
He also had a couple of shots that didn’t sit well. “I’m hooking shots,” he said. “My miss right now is a pull hook. I have to eliminate that.”
But he’s happy with his overall game. “I played pretty well all day,” he said. “That’s about all you can ask for.”
Kelly Knievel, 70
Todd Roberts, 71
Frank Acker, 73
David Koch overcame a double bogey on his third hole and played his final 15 holes in three-under-par to edge James Kim by a shot for the Senior Net title.
It was Koch’s first win of 2020. Koch finished second in this tournament in 2019 in the gross division.
“I really messed up that hole,” he said. “I hit a bad drive into the right waste area. None of us could find it. I was joking that if we maybe had fans they would have stopped it and we would have found it.”
The double bogey didn’t dampen his outlook.
“It definitely took the edge off,” he said. “I’ve been playing really well all year and was more relaxed after that. I had two birdies and the rest pars so I was happy.”
He said his overall attitude has changed.
“I’ve been playing better and with more confidence,” he said. “I just need to have fun, add them up and see where I end up. I just tell myself not to be afraid to fail.”
David Koch, 71
James Kim, 72
Brian Freymueller, 72
Jeffrey English won a SNGA event for the third time in 2020, posting a three-stroke victory.
English won the Tournament of Champions in February and the Chimera event in May.
“Today was a lot of fun,” English said. “I played very, very well and steady. I only hit one bad shot, made some putts and stayed in the fairway.”
He said his start was the key.
“The first hole is narrow with the drive and I got it in the middle of the fairway,” he said. “I hit it to about 10 feet but I missed the putt. But I did make birdies on two of the next four holes and everything just felt good.”
He also ended the day in style.
“I birdied 11 and 12 and then made a 20-footer on 18 for birdie on one of the tougher holes on the course,” he said. “I had to jump on a wedge and I hit it a little right. It only cleared the water by about three feet but it all worked out. It was one of those days where everything fell into place.”
Jeffrey English, 70
Bruce Swanson, 73
Tony Caiazzo, 74
Scott Walker, runnerup at this event in 2019, took the next step in 2020 and walked away with the crown. It was his first SNGA title.
“I actually tied my best tournament round ever so that was pretty nice,” Walker said.
With his win this year and runnerup finish in 2019, it’s easy to see that Walker is a Bear’s Best fan.
“It’s my favorite course in town and I’m not just saying that because I’ve played well the last two tournaments here,” he said. “Whenever I have friends come in to play golf, it’s the course I pick to play first.”
He said his round was solid from start to finish.
“It was a good, all-around day,” he said. “I made just one bad decision. If I would have parred 18 I would have beat my best tournament score. I hit a good drive but then I was between clubs…a pitching wedge or a 9-iron. I took the 9-iron and went long and left and wound up with a bogey. That hole has always played tough for me.”
Scott Walker, 68
Darwin Rogers, 69
Peter Bartmus, 70
A pair of aces
Craig Goleno (Net Division) and Neil Driscoll (Silver Division) both recorded the first hole-in-ones of their golf careers during the SNGA Tour event.
Both players aced the par-3 15th at Bear’s Best. The aces were the first of the year in SNGA play.
Driscoll said a hole-in-one was the last thing on his mind. “I’ve been playing for 40-plus years and just figured I’d never get one,” he said. “I’m embarrassed to say that it was playing 120 yards and I hit an 8-iron that hit about a foot from the hole and went in.”
He said his goal every time out is to just have fun. “I’m just out to enjoy the game,” the 64-year-old said. “But this certainly makes it that much more enjoyable.”
As for Goleno, making the ace on the 15th at Jack Nicklaus’s Bear’s Best Las Vegas is a nice place to do it.
“If you’re going to get a hole-in-one, that’s a great hole to get it on with the Strip in the background,” he said. “It was playing 177 yards and I hit a 3-hybrid. I told the guys I wasn’t sure if I got enough of it but it bounced right in front of the flag and kept going.”