Marcus Mullins (Championship), Todd Roberts (Senior) and John Turk (Silver) won gross titles in the 2020 SNGA Tour event at TPC Las Vegas on Aug. 5, 2020. Steve Johnson (Net), Scott Gardner (Senior) and Jim Cail (Silver) came away with net victories. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
The tournament was played using a modified Stableford scoring format and awarded points for double eagles (8 points), eagles (5 points), birdies (3 points) and pars (1 point). Bogeys gave players zero points while double bogeys or worse cost players two points. TPC Las Vegas is an official PGA Tour course and several area tour professionals play and practice at the course. It is a former host course of both the PGA Tour and what is now the PGA Tour Champions.
Marcus Mullins put points on his scorecoard on 15 of the 18 holes and didn’t lose any points in posting a five-shot victory. It was his first victory in SNGA play.
Mullins had bogeys on the first two holes but didn’t lose any points. He then birdied three of his next five holes and was off and running. In total, he recorded 11 pars, four birdies and three bogeys during his round.
Mullins, a Mojave High School graduate, is enrolled in the UNLV PGM program and looks at SNGA events as part of his growth in golf.
“I’d love to become a head pro or a teaching professional,” he said. “I just want to help grow the game.”
His start in golf didn’t come via the usual route.
“I got started when I was 10 at a junior camp at Nellis Air Force Base,” he said. “My mom signed me up. I think she just wanted to get me out of the house.”
It was the beginning of a love affair. “I actually had no interest in golf at all. In fact, the first day we didn’t even get to hit balls. We did hit a few putts and seeing the ball go in the cup was addictive.”
He hasn’t played an SNGA event in more than a year, but he said his comeback was solid.
“My putting was pretty spot-on,” he said. “And my short game was solid. I also drove the ball well and put myself in great position. I didn’t have many worries today.”
Well, except for that bogey-bogey start.
“Yeah, it was a rough start,” he said. “It looked like I might be out of it but I settled down and got the job done.”
Marcus Mullins, 23 points
Jeremy Martin, 18
Kenny Ebalo, 18
Steve Johnson started and finished strong in picking up his first SNGA title. Johnson, who finished the day with 28 points, opened with nine points over his first four holes and closed his round with seven points over his last four holes.
Johnson, who now has three wins on the SNGA Tour, won by four points.
“I sprayed my drive on the first hole and thought it was going to be a bad day,” Johnson said. “But I managed a bogey and didn’t lose any points so that was good.”
He said the third hole was the key.
“The birdie (net eagle) on the third hole really gave me a kickstart since I got a shot on that hole,” he said. “That really got me going.”
His goals for the day were simple: No blowup holes.
“I kept it in play and just went in with the mindset to just play steady,” he said. “I knew if I didn’t have any doubles I was good. I was OK making pars.”
He said the format is appealing, especially for net players.”It’s really fun because you can watch where you get pops (strokes) and try to capitalize and really help your score a lot.”
Steve Johnson, 28 points
Brett Crabtree, 24
Gary McCollum, 24
Todd Roberts got off to a blistering start, posting 15 points in his first seven holes, and won the Senior Division crown.
Roberts, who won for the third time in 2020, had four birdies over his first six holes.
“I hit it close to the hole each time and made them all,” he said of his birdie barrage.
Roberts said the event’s format is one that lets players be a little more aggressive.
“I can play a little more relaxed,” he said. “Even a bogey, though you never want to make a bogey, doesn’t hurt you in this type of event so I can be more aggressive with my lines and go at a few more pins.”
Despite being in a positive frame of mind, there were a couple of hiccups along the way.
“After the fourth birdie I made a dumb bogey,” he said. “On the back I had three holes in a row where I missed putts inside of 10 feet.”
Then came the 18th hole and a couple of shots that proved pivotal.
“I played my drive too far right and it went through the fairway bunker and wound up just on top,” he said. “I had no stance. I took a hybrid and aimed sideways and hit an unbelievable shot into the right-front bunker of the green.”
His drama wasn’t over.
“That was the first time I thought about how I was doing,” he said. “And at that time I had a 40-yard bunker shot toward the pond. I fatted it and hit a terrible shot. At that point I figured I needed to two-putt. I hit a terrible first putt and left it nine feet short. I figured I had to make it. I played a cup of break and made it and that turned out to be the difference.”
Todd Roberts, 24 points
Chris Whatley, 19
James Kim, 15
Scott Gardner put up 15 points on his front nine and won the Senior Net title, his third SNGA title. The victory was his second since returning from back troubles.
“I had back surgery in February and it’s starting to feel real good,” he said.
He said he’s also found a driver that fits his game.
“My driver’s not missing any fairways and that’s good,” he said. “I’ve been struggling to find a driver for about a year and finally found one that’s great a couple of months ago.”
He added the round, the day and the conditions were all ideal.
“It was a good time today,” he said. “The conditions were good, the course was in nice shape and my putter was going well. I got a few balls to go in the hole. It was just a solid day of golf.”
Scott Gardner, 24 points
David Ramirez, 23
Brian Freymueller, 20
John Turk bogeyed the first hole for zero points. After that, he put 25 points on the scorecard (four birdies and 13 pars) and breezed to his third SNGA crown in 2020.
Turk said putting consistency was the key.
“I hit every putt on the exact line I wanted,” he said. “That really makes a difference.”
He added the tournament’s format got him started off on the wrong foot.
“I tried to drive the first green,” he said. “I wound up in the bunker 30 yards short of the green. I did manage to make a five. That woke me up. I said, ‘you know what, that probably wasn’t the right strategy.’ But I made a seven-footer for bogey and then started playing smarter.”
Despite the nine-point win, there were a few troublesome shots.
“I’ve got to get a wedge lesson, I guess,” he said. “I missed four greens from less than 100 yards so that’s not good.”
He did get up-and-down to alleviate the mistakes.
“Except for the wedge, everything was fine,” he said. “This was a good tuneup for this week’s Nevada State Senior Am in Reno. That will be a good test.”
John Turk, 25 points
Frank Acker, 16
Bob Godfrey, 15
For Jim Cail, the goal is easy: “If you putt well you’ll probably score well and give yourself a chance to win,” he said.
And he did just that in winning the Silver Net Division title.
“I made a putt to birdie the first hole and that set up the rest of the round,” he said. “If you get off to a good start, your head is in a good place. And I putted pretty well today.”
Cail has also been setting a goal for himself. He wants to shoot his age as often as possible.
“I’m 75,” he said. “And I shot 74 today. I’ve probably beat my age a dozen time over the last few years.”
And he’s looking to keep adding to that total. “The older I get, the easier it’s going to be,” he said with a laugh.
He was also quick to add that he knows scoring well in golf can be quite the challenge.
“Even the pros can struggle,” he said. “You can shoot 70 one day and 80 the next…and on the same course with the same conditions. It’s just a tough game.”
Jim Cail, 21 points
Bruce Chamberlain, 20
hen Sitar, 17