LAS VEGAS, NV (Oct. 16, 2020)–Adonis LeBlue (Championship), David Koch (Senior) and John Turk (Silver) won gross division titles at the SNGA Tour’s stop at Las Vegas Golf Club on Oct. 16, 2020. Jimmy Jamie (Net), David Ramirez (Senior) and Stephen Sitar (Silver) claimed net crowns.–by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
This was the Tour’s final event before the season-ending Tour Championship set for Dec. 3, 2020, at Las Vegas National.
Adonis LeBlue birdied a par-3, a par-4 and a par-5 en route to a one-under-par 71 score and a one-stroke victory in the Championship Division.
It was LeBlue’s first SNGA Tour title in his first event.
LeBlue was attending Jefferson State Junior College but is now taking classes from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Spring Valley High School graduate is planning to head back to college, hopefully closer to home in California at a D1 school, next year.
“I certainly didn’t play my best,” he said. “It’s nice to win when you don’t have your best game but it was really windy and the pins were in some tough spots.”
He said his putting was the real downfall to his round.
“It was just poor putting today,” he said. “I hit it good but my putter really let me down.”
How bad was it?
“I had 18 putts on the front nine (the back nine on the course) and 16 on the back,” he said after adding them up. “Thirdty-four putts just isn’t good…and it was both speed and direction. It was just awful.”
But, he will take the win.
“In all honesty if I would have putted decent I could have been four or five under,” he said. “And the SNGA events have a lot of good players of every age so you’ve really got to play solid to have a chance.”
Adonis LeBlue, 71
Greg Horodesky, 72
Kamden Ganir, 73
Jimmy Jamie posted three net eagles over a four-hole stretch and breezed to the Net title. It was his first SNGA Tour win in his first event.
He got off to a rough start with a triple bogey on his first hole, but rebounded with a net birdie and net eagle on the next two holes to get back to even. After that, he was off to the races and won by six shots.
“This was my first tournament…ever,” he said. “I just started playing golf a year ago.”
He got started after his mom, Shida, passed away from breast cancer.
“She had wanted me to play golf,” he said. “But I was always playing tennis. But after she passed I decided to do something for her and try golf.”
It was love at first swing.
“After playing a few times I made so many friends,” he said. “The people are nice and it’s just nice to be out on the course. The trees, the grass…it’s just peace and quiet. The more I played, the more I enjoyed it and wanted to get better.”
That set the stage for his first attempt at tournament golf. Any butterflies?
“Oh, there were so many,” he said with a laugh. “I had to breathe multiple times before shots to try and keep my composure.”
The first hole didn’t help that composure.
“I actually four putted,” he said. “But, that took a little of the pressure off and helped me realize I didn’t need to have too high of expectations.”
He steadied his play and wound up with the title.
“The emotions haven’t come out yet,” he said. “But it did make me realize I want to play more tournaments and keep getting better.”
Jimmy Jamie, 66
Andrew Cohen, 69
Greg Pyszko, 75
David Koch had every reason to think he had shot himself out of the chance for a win…after just one hole. After all, he came out with a triple bogey on the par-4 10th, his first hole.
But he rallied and played the final 17 holes at one-under-par to post the Senior Net Division victory. It was Koch’s second SNGA Tour win of 2020.
“I snap hooked it left right out of the gate,” he said of his first-hole dilemma. “I had to take an unplayable lie and then just chip out. On top of that, then I three-putted. It was definitely a rough start.”
But, he kept a positive attitude.
“The pin on that first hole (the tournament’s first hole, but No. 10 overall) was tough,” he said. “Our whole group didn’t play it that well so I put it out of my mind right away.”
He battled back and said a key stretch came over the 12th, 13th and 14th holes.
“I made a real good swing on No. 3 (a par-3, their 12th hole),” he said. “I didn’t make the putt but the swing felt real good.”
He then parred the 13th before the telltale hole of his day came up.
“On No. 5, I had a couple of real nervy strokes,” he said. “I managed to make a par but the nerves were there. But, after those couple of bad strokes and still being able to make a par, it gave me a wakeup call.”
He played his back nine in even par to finish off the three-stroke victory.
“I’ve been hitting it OK all year,” he said. “But these senior guys play really well. You’ve usually got to shoot well to beat them.”
David Koch, 74
Todd Roberts, 77
Kelly Knievel, 77
David Ramirez rode a net eagle, a natural birdie and three net birdies to a two-shot victory in the Senior Net Division.
It was the first SNGA Tour win for Ramirez.
“This feels great,” he said. “I was second a couple of weeks ago so I got close.”
Ramirez, who spent 33 years as a postal worker, retired to Las Vegas and said he sees his new job is just as demanding: Improving his golf game.
“I’m getting better,” he said. “Of course I’ve had a lot more time to practice now.”
He said the win showed his hard work is paying off.
“I’m getting more consistent,” he said. “I felt like I was in the zone and just tried to stay focused.”
Ramirez is deaf and has formed a friendship with another SNGA golfer who is deaf, James Kim. Ramirez said the two really push each other to keep improving. Ramirez beat Kim by a stroke for the title.
“James has really been encouraging me to keep practicing and that’s what really did it today,” Ramirez said. “I kicked it up to the next level for me.”
He’s hoping for more.
“I’ve picked up a couple of tips in the last couple of weeks and they have helped my game,” he said. “I’m a six (handicap) right now and my goal is to get down to a five or less.”
“I really want to beat James,” he said with a laugh.
David Ramirez, 73
James Kim, 75
Troy Abajian, 75
John Turk put three birdies on the scorecard over his final nine holes to get back to even-par and win the Silver Division title by four strokes.
It was Turk’s fifth individual title in 2020 to go along with a team crown.
“It wasn’t very good today,” Turk said. “About the only thing I did well today was drive the ball. I was in the middle of about every fairway.”
Turk found himself behind the 8-ball early with a double bogey on his first hole.
“I didn’t get off to a great start…I four-putted the first hole,” he said with a laugh. “And the sad thing is I hit four good putts.”
He said putting the first hole behind him quickly was key.
“I just needed to press on,” he said.
He made the turn at three-over but then got it back to even-par with the three birdies on his inward nine.
Despite winning, Turk said his overall play–especially on the par 5s–was not up to par.
“It was sad…especially the way I drove the ball,” he said. “I had a five or six iron into every one of them and just didn’t hit the greens. It was a little shocking to me. I’ll have to go work on that.”
In the end, there was a bright spot.
“With the wind and the tough pins, I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about a 72,” he said.
John Turk, 72
Mark Williams, 76
Jeffrey English, 78
Stephen Sitar, who won three times in 2019, picked up his first victory of 2020 in winning the Silver Net title.
Sitar had two natural birdies on a pair of par 3s to highlight the victory.
“I got very fortunate today,” Sitar said. “I had three or four great breaks today and those always help.”
Two of those breaks came on the par-3 birdies.
“One of them I chipped in for the birdie and the other one I putted from off the green and it went in,” Sitar said. “Those were the two biggest breaks.”
Sitar added he’s been working hard to solidify his game.
“I’ve changed my game drastically over the last year,” he said. “I’ve been watching the Paul Wilson videos (from Bear’s Best) and they have helped a lot. It’s really helped my ball striking.”
And then there’s his putting.
“I’ve been pulling my putts and I’m trying to make sure to keep the putter face flat,” he said. “It’s made a big difference.”
Stephen Sitar, 72
Jim Burger, 74
Terry Hamilton, 74