Scott Lytle (Championship), Todd Roberts (Senior) and Steve Fink (Silver) won gross titles at the 2021 Southern Nevada Amateur Championship held June 26-27, 2021, at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. Craig Garner (Net), Luis Morais (Senior) and George Yocum (Silver) claimed net crowns. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
It was the SNGA’s second major of the year and was played on the Snow Mountain and Sun Mountain courses, both Pete Dye signature layouts.
Scott Lytle started the weekend strong and also finished strong in winning the Championship Division.
Lytle birdied his first two holes of the event and played his final nine holes on Sunday in two-under-par to hold on for a one-stroke victory. It was his first SNGA victory.
No one was more surprised at the outcome than Lytle.
“It’s my first win anywhere,” he said. “I’m a little shocked. I knew where I was when we started the round and I knew who was ahead of me. I figured no matter what I did third place was about the best I could do.”
He proved himself wrong.
“I played pretty solid,” the former University of Maryland baseball player said. “I definitely think I was fortunate I didn’t have a lot of pressure on me for the first 15 holes. We weren’t in the last group so there was no pressure on us.”
Then he got the news he was in the running.
“I missed the green on the last two holes and had to get up-and-down for pars so that added to the pressure a little,” he said.
He also said his putting on the second day helped him seal the win.
“The greens were more challenging (Sunday) but I made all of my three-to-five footers,” he said. “That really made a difference.”
He said the win hasn’t sunk in. He’s hoping it does.
“I’ll wake up tomorrow and see if this is actually real or not,” he said.
Scott Lytle, 73-69—142
Jackson Parrish, 74-69—143
Hazen Newman, 71-73—144
Craig Garner had a natural birdie and three net birdies in a six-hole stretch over the final nine holes to help him post a four-shot victory in the Net Division. It was Garner’s second SNGA victory but his first major.
“I knew I had a pretty good round going but didn’t know where I stood,” he said.
He said the key was everyone’s usual goal: Hitting fairways and greens.
“Honestly, if you hit fairways and then get on the green, good things can happen,” he said with a laugh. “I hit the driver really well today and made a lot of putts. I only made one birdie but I was rolling the putts well.”
He added the win bodes well for his future play.
“This is a huge confidence boost,” he said. “I went out and played well but better than that, I finished well. I knew I had to finish strong and did. I closed out the tournament well and that is so cool.”
Craig Garner, 75-70—145
Todd Kirby, 74-75—149
Jeffrey Gilliame, 77-74—151
Todd Roberts is in the winner’s circle for the first time in 2021, playing his final five holes in one-under to post a one-shot victory in the Senior Division.
Roberts’ last SNGA victory came in the team event when he teamed up with Frank Acker to win the SNGA Tour Four-Ball Championship last October.
He said the win was a long time coming.
“It’s been such a difficult year,” Roberts said. “Right at the end of January I injured my left eye and went blind for three or four days after scratching my cornea and developing an ulcer on it. After two stints in the ER, the doctor said if we can’t cure it, you’ll be blind in that eye.”
He went through 10 days of having to put in eye drops every hour…24 hours a day.
“It was a torturous routine,” he said. “It definitely put me behind the eight-ball.”
He finally got the OK to go back to contacts and it’s proved to make a world of difference.
“I liked the prescription sunglasses but I didn’t have good depth perception,” he said. “I was missing a ton of short putts.”
He got his game back on track at Reflection Bay a couple of weeks ago.
“I finally started playing a lot more solidly,” he said.
Then came this week and his chance to win again.
“Sixteen (a par-5) was the turning point,” he said. “I hit a drive into a fairway bunker and had to chip out. I hit a wedge to about 12 feet and made the putt and both of them (Jim Pliska and Jed Shreve, his playing partners) made par. That flipped the momentum.”
Todd Roberts, 74-72—146
David Koch, 76-71—147
Jed Shreve, 74-73—147
Luis Morais played his final three holes in three-under par to rally for the Senior Net title.
Morais had a net eagle and a net birdie in the three-hole stretch to earn another SNGA title. He also won a team event, pairing up with Don Blanton to win the 2018 Boulder City Four-Ball Amateur.
“Today was a good day for me,” Morais said. “I played really, really well. I hit good irons and good drives. And I didn’t have any three putts. Overall it was just a good round.”
Even with the round, he wasn’t confident of the outcome.
“My good finish put me back in the lead after a couple of hiccups,” he said. “I had the net eagle and net birdie finish so I was happy. But then I had to sweat in the clubhouse waiting for the other groups to finish.”
But no one caught up to him.
“I knew I made some mistakes in the middle of the round,” he said. “I was just hoping they didn’t hurt me too much because there were a couple of players who were close who could have caught me but they didn’t.”
Luis Morais, 77-70—147
Jim Pliska, 76-73—149
Freddie Sarno, 72-78—150
Steve Fink made it two SNGA victories for the week and his ninth of the year in posting a three-stroke win the Silver Division.
Fink carded a one-over-par 73 in the first round and an even-under-par second round that helped him win for the ninth time in 2021. It was also his second win of the week as he won the Bear’s Best Scratch Championship last Tuesday.
“I played well enough to win which is good,” Fink said. “I had a 73 the first day when it was hot and windy. That took a toll on me but I recovered well and played a solid round.”
He added he’s always happy to win and especially so when it comes to the majors. He’s now won both SNGA majors played so far in 2021. He’s also won Senior Division majors in the past along with a couple of Championship Divisions majors “way back in the day,” he said with a laugh.
He said the key was the 15th hole on Sunday. He was bunkered off the tee while playing partner Dan Parkinson put a tee shot in close.
“I knew Dan was right there,” Fink said of the leaderboard. “I hit a great bunker shot to about five feet and after Dan made his birdie I made the putt to only lose one shot. That was the shot of the tournament from my perspective. I was very happy with the way I played and finished.”
Steve Fink, 73-72—145
Dan Parkinson, 74-74—148
Mark Williams, 83-73—156
It’s been just over a year, but George Yocum is back in the winner’s circle as he came away with the Silver Net crown with a scorecard playoff victory.
Yocum won three times in 2019 and once in 2020–the Reflection Bay Amateur.
He’s not actually sure how he won with the way he started the tournament.
“I was playing so bad,” he said. “The first day I started with a quad. The very first shot I hit went in the water, then I hit it in the desert, then into an unplayable lie and then three-putted for an eight.”
But while his ball-striking didn’t help out the first day, his putting helped him stay in it.
“My putting, except for that first hole, was unreal,” he said. “I made putts from 30 feet, 40 feet and 70 feet. It was a total shock how the ball kept going in the hole.”
Then came day two and a reversal of fortunes.
“(Sunday) I started with a three-putt on the first hole and then three-putted the second and four-putted the third,” he said. “But I was hitting the ball off the tee and into the greens great. It was the opposite of the first day.”
But in the end, it’s a victory.
“After the third hole, I thought…well, it can’t get any worse,” he said. “Let’s just have fun. I was nothing short of surprised when I won.”
George Yocum, 76-72—148
Ernie Ortega, 74-74—148
Bryan Link, 72-78—150