Eight Win Prestigious 2024 SNGA Tournament of Champions Titles at Reflection Bay
Craig Erickson (Championship), Brady Exber (Senior), Mark Dopheide (Silver) and Ronda Henderson (Women’) won gross titles at the 2024 SNGA Tournament of Champions tournament. Doug Shrader (Net), Artie Miller (Senior), Dave Schoepp (Silver) and Jill Morrison (Women) captured net titles in the tournament held Jan. 29, 2024, at Reflection Bay GC. –-by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider
To say Craig Erickson had an up-and-down round would be an understatement.
Erickson, who won the Championship Division by one stroke, had eight straight holes where he didn’t put a par on the scorecard. He had five birdies and three bogeys in that stretch.
Erickson won twice in 2023 including the SNGA Tour Championship in mid-December.
“It was a tough day,” Erickson said. “With the dormant fairways if you missed a green it was tough to chip. I had a couple of shortsided chips when I missed greens and made a couple of bogeys but they were offset with birdies.”
He said the course is one of his favorites.
“I’ve always loved Reflection Bay,” he said. “I was anxious to see the new greens and I’ve always been impressed with the layout.”
He’s said his goal starting out 2024 was simple: Keep the ball in play.
“That’s the name of the game on this course,” he said. “I hit it well and found fairways.”
He’s hoping 2024 is a solid year for his game.
“I usually hit the ball well and I did that pretty well today,” he said. “Putting is the question mark and something I have to focus on. If I roll it good, I can score well.”
Craig Erickson, 71
Grant McKay, 73
Matt Mitchell, 74
Doug Shrader birdied his final hole to get back to even-par for the round and won the Net Division title in a scorecard playoff.
“I bogeyed the hole before that…I missed about a four-footer…so I was a little upset,” Shrader said. “I figured I needed a birdie for sure on the last hole. Did I know I had a chance to win? Yes. Did I think I was going to win? No.”
He wound up with a par on the final hole for a net birdie and stepped into the SNGA winner’s circle.
His game-plan was simple.
“I took my time to embrace the good shots and block out the bad shots,” he said. “All day I tried to play within myself and not get frustrated when I made a bad shot because everyone makes bad shots.”
He said he was impressed with the entire day.
“It was pretty exciting,” he said. “And it was a really top-notch event. Everyone was excited and had a great time.”
x-Doug Shrader, 72
Joseph Noya, 72
John Diclaro, 74
x-Won scorecard playoff
Brady Exber had three birdies and three bogeys in winning the Senior Division.
Exber won three titles in 2023 including an SNGA team event, the Nevada State Senior title and an SNGA Tour Championship crown. He won the three events in consecutive starts.
“It was fun,” Exber said. “When you play in this event it’s just a good time.”
Exber wasn’t sure what to expect from his golf game.
“I should probably say that Butch (Harmon) and I went to Jackie Burke’s funeral services in Houston last week,” he said. “And Butch asked me how my game was. I told him I was really lost. He sent me a text and said I should come out and we played golf on Friday. He gave me a great lesson and straightened me right out.”
He said the ToC win was a great way to start 2024.
“It was fun to hit the ball well enough to know where it was going,” Exber said. “I’ve said it to you too many times but I just tell myself to keep the ball in front of me, don’t try to do anything too special and don’t make mistakes. The most important thing for me is to keep repeating my golf swing.”
Brady Exber, 72
James Corey, 77
Kelly Knievel, 77
Artie Miller put a birdie on the scorecard on his final hole of the round and won the Senior Net title, also in a scorecard playoff.
Miller, who calls Reflection Bay his home course, said having knowledge of the layout certainly helped.
“It was the first time I’ve played in that event and it was impressive,” he said. “I had no idea how special the day was going to be for everyone.”
He added that playing at his home course gave him a little edge.
“Being a member at Reflection Bay probably helped me a little, especially on the greens.”
Miller said his overall game was pretty solid.
“I played very consistent and didn’t have a really bad hole,” he said. “I drove the ball pretty well, my iron game was OK and I only had one three-putt. And chipping in on 16 didn’t hurt.”
He said practice has gotten him to this point.
“I’ve been striking the ball a lot better and I attribute that to practice,” he said. “I make that a key component of practice now and that’s helped me hit more greens each round.”
x-Artie Miller, 76
Greg Pyszko, 76
Brian Freymueller, 77
x-Won in a scorecard playoff
Mark Dopheide birdied two of his first three holes en route to a three-shot win in the Senior Division.
“It was a great start,” Dopheide said. “It put me in the right frame of mind. Two-under after three holes…I thought, let’s keep it going.”
But then came a little problem.
“I had a triple-bogey on the fourth hole and thought I may have shot myself out of it,” he said. “It was a little hiccup but I came back from it. It should have been a bogey at the worst. It was definitely a mental lapse.”
He said the course was a challenge.
“It was in great shape but the greens were a little tricky and fast,” he said. “I had a lot of good up and downs to keep the round going.”
Mark Dopheide, 74
Patrick Woerner, 77
Barry Boudreaux, 78
Dave Schoepp had three straight birdies (two net and one natural) late in his round and that would be good enough to help him post a one-stroke victory.
“It was a great day,” Schoepp said. “I hadn’t played the course before so I came in with no expectations. I just wanted to go out and have fun.”
That attitude proved to be a winning one.
“I was real consistent with the driver and with my putter,” he said. “With my putting I usually come up short but these greens were quick so it helped me out.”
Schoepp said he’s just starting to get back into form.
“My game is finally coming back,” he said. “I had surgery on both wrists so I’ve only been playing for three weeks. My hands really hurt but (Monday) I got through the pain and it all worked out.”
Now, he’s got his eyes on the 2025 ToC event.
“It was a wonderful event from start to finish,” he said. “I didn’t go last year and wish I would have. I’m already looking forward to next year.”
Dave Schoepp, 70
Brent Bingham, 71
Mike Farmer, 77
Ronda Henderson overcame a triple-bogey on a par-3 to post a one-shot victory in the Women’s Gross Division.
It was Henderson’s third straight Tournament of Champions victory and fifth overall.
“It was a personal goal of mine to see if I could get to three in a row,” she said. “And it was awesome.”
But it didn’t come without a few tense moments.
“My goodness,” she said. “I was on cruise control…I think I was at one-over…and I just made a bad club selection on No. 8 and dumped it in the water and wound up with a triple. I compounded that mistake on No. 9 when I didn’t hit a good wedge shot and hit it over the green and had a bogey.”
But, she rebounded.
“Mentally, I was going 1,000 miles an hour,” she said of the two-hole struggle. “But on the 10th hole I made a conscientious effort to slow down and that made a huge difference. I played the back nine in one-over so I was pleased with how I recovered.”
Ronda Henderson, 77
Christine Brandt, 78
Debbie Love, 87
Jill Morrison had two net eagles over a three-hole stretch in winning the Women’s Net Division.
Morrison won the Net Division title at the 2023 Women’s Southern Nevada State Amateur held last May.
“The best part of my game was my putting,” Morrison said. “Everyone struggled out there on those fast greens and I two-putted most holes.”
An improved putting game was no accident for Morrison.
“I was playing a match with Sherry Jackson and she kicked my butt,” she said. “At the end of the match she said to me ‘you’re way too good of a player to be putting the way you are.’ That comment changed my game and inspired me to work harder on my putting.”
She said the ToC event was one she won’t soon forget.
“I was so honored to be among such great players, both men and women,” she said.
Jill Morrison, 75
Janelle Weber, 76
Katherine Faber, 77
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