UNLV golfer J.J. Gresco (Championship) and former Silver Net division player of the year John Kelley (Net) won titles at the 2020 Clark County Amateur, which was held Nov. 21-22, 2020, at Boulder Creek Golf Club. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
J.J. Gresco had an ace up his sleeve in winning the Championship Division.
Well, not literally up his sleeve, but he did have an ace during the first round and it helped him win his first SNGA title. Gresco, a senior at UNLV, also won the 2019 Nevada State Amateur championship and had an ace during that tournament.
Gresco had a hole-in-one the par-3 17th to get to one-under-par after the first day of the tournament. Up to that point he had a lone bogey to go along with 16 pars.
The second day he didn’t wait nearly as long for the fireworks display as his seven-birdie, no-bogey round helped him post a seven-shot victory. During the final round he had two stretches, one on each nine, where he put three straight birdies on the scorecard.
“The biggest thing is I didn’t make any mistakes,” Gresco said.
He said the first day was a weird one. He shot one-under-par with no birdies. He had the bogey on his second hole and his ace on the 17th with a bunch of pars scattered in.
“I just couldn’t make any putts the first day,” he said. “But it was an effortless round. It was a pretty easy week for keeping big numbers off the scorecard.”
He added the ace definitely gave him a boost in confidence.
“It was my fourth one and all of them have come in competition,” he said. “And I won three of the four events so if I get a hole in one there’s a good chance I’m winning that week.”
The hole-in-one came with a seven-iron from 189 yards.
“It kind of rolled in from the side,” he said. “There’s a bank in the middle of the green and we all knew it was there. It rolled about 20 feet and just trickled in.”
He noted that three of his four aces have come with his seven-iron.
Heading into the second round his birdie-less streak continued for the first three holes with pars. On the par-5 fourth hole he hit the green in two leaving him with a 15-foot putt for eagle.
“I was telling myself, ‘now watch, I’ll make this for eagle and still not have a birdie in the tournament,’ ” he said. “But I wound up with the birdie and that got things going.”
And in a big way. He added two more straight birdies and was off and running and on cruise control.
“My proximity to the hole was much better today,” he said. “Yesterday I was 15-20 feet away on most of the putts and today I gave myself much closer looks. And today the putts were dropping.”
Overall, the two days left Gresco feeling confident as he awaits, hopefully, to tee it up with UNLV again in the spring.
“I was pretty much in the fairway all week,” he said. “I hit almost every fairway. The greens I missed I gave myself great up and down chances. I really managed my golf game well this week. It gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
J.J. Gresco, 71-65—136
Skyler Ngo, 76-67—143
Kyle Meade, 72-71—143
John Kelley, the 2019 Silver Division Player of the Year, won for the first time in 2020 as he won the Net Division crown.
Kelley played his last four holes in four-under-par to rally for the two-shot victory. In his final round, Kelly posted two net eagles including one in that final three-hole stretch. He added six net birdies over the second day.
“It was really exciting,” Kelley said. “I don’t normally play in the Net event. I played Thursday and Friday in the Silver Net and then decided to sign up.”
He said the weekend play was definitely unexpected.
“I really played over my head,” he said. “The last two days I hit the ball really solid, kept it in play and made some putts. It seems so easy to do when you do it but it’s so hard most of the time.”
He said being in contention was nerve-wracking early in the final round.
“I was definitely a little nervous today,” he said. “I hit it in bunkers the first two holes. I bogeyed the first and then made a par on the second and then managed to straighten it out a little.”
He added his confidence will definitely be buoyed by this win…maybe.
“It should help, but I’m an amateur so who knows what the next round will bring,” he said with a laugh. “I’m old enough to know I don’t have this game figured out.”
John Kelley, 68-69—137
Jason Berton, 70-69—139
Jeffrey Gilliame, 72-68—140