Trstenjak, Roser, Carpendale, Berton, LiCausi, Ortega Win 2023 SNGA Championship Titles

Marco Trstenjak (Championship), Scott Roser (Senior) and Gary Carpendale (Silver) won gross titles in the 2023 SNGA Championship. Jason Berton (Net), Jim LiCausi (Senior) and Ernie Ortega (Silver) were net champs in the tournament held Feb. 4-5, 2023, at Highland Falls and Palm Valley golf clubs. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider

The tournament, the first major of the year in SNGA play, saw golfers battle cool, windy weather.


Marco Trstenjak birdied two of his first three holes on Sunday en route to a seven-stroke victory in the Championship Division.

That early run followed up a solid finish in the first round where he birdied three of his final seven holes.

It was the first SNGA victory for Trstenjak, a former UNLV player who is about to graduate from UNLV.

“I’m still going to UNLV and I’m finishing up school,” he said. “Then I plan to turn pro.”

He said his fast start in the final round was a huge boost.

“The first hole was incredibly downwind,” he said. “I made a good birdie there and then on the par-3 third I hit it to about five or six feet and made the birdie. That was huge.”

He moved to Las Vegas from Winnipeg four or five years ago and has played in quite a few SNGA events.

“I’ve had two or three second place finishes so it was nice to get some breaks and win one,” he said. “And it’s especially nice because it’s a major.”

He said he’s played in tough conditions quite a bit.

“Once I knew how hard the conditions would be, I knew the key was being able to hit shots in the wind that wouldn’t be affected,” he said. “Growing up in Winnipeg I learned to keep the ball down and how to curve the ball to deal with the conditions.”


Marco Trstenjak, 72-75—147

Garret Kieffer, 75-79—154

Tanner Johnson, 79-76—155


Jason Berton backed up his Net win in the season-opening Tournament of Champions by winning the Net title in the year’s first major.

Berton played his final six holes in six-under-par with a net eagle and four net birdies to post the victory.

“I found a little groove over the last few holes and didn’t fall out of it…luckily,” Berton said. “Somehow it turned out to be enough to be on the phone with you.”

Berton said he put the weather conditions out of his mind early.

“I just reminded myself that everyone else was also playing in these conditions,” he said. “But I do want to thank the SNGA staff for their hard work out here helping us out.”

Berton added the win comes at a good time.

“We’ve got a baby arriving in about three weeks so this might be one of my last chances to win for awhile.”

He said his final six-hole stretch of six-under-par play was nice…even if it wasn’t pretty.

“That stretch was a little misleading,” he said with a laugh. “Things just worked out well. It was a bunch of scrambling. On 16, the long par-3, I snap hooked it and it wound up under a tree. I punched it out and hit it into a bunker but it had enough on it to get out of the bunker. I wound up two-putting for a net par. Let’s just say the short game came through for me today.”


Jason Berton, 76-73—149

Kenneth Humphries, 73-80—153

Jeffrey Gilliame, 73-80—153


Scott Roser birdied the final hole on Sunday to post his first SNGA victory, a one-shot win in just his second event.

“I knew it was close,” Roser said. “I was hoping that was enough to win.”

He said there were good and bad parts when it came to the windy, cool weather.

“I did make three birdies including that last one which was good for those conditions,” he said. “But I bogeyed all of the par 5s which isn’t good.”

He added his work on the greens was also solid during the final round.

“I putted real well today,” he said. “I only had one three-putt. Yesterday I hit it well but didn’t putt that well.”

Roser joined the SNGA in a roundabout kind of way.

“One of my best friends retired out here,” he said. “We come out to visit him and his wife a couple of times a year.”

He added there’s a method to his visiting madness.

“I’m working hard on my game,” he said. “I’ve been taking a few lessons from Craig Barlow (at Reflection Bay) and it’s been awesome. I’m almost 65 and last year I won my first state title in 20 years in New Mexico so my game is moving in the right direction.”


Scott Roser, 73-79—152

Todd Roberts, 74-79—153

James Corey, 72-82—154

Senior Net

Jim LiCausi had a game plan and it worked out to perfection…some of the time.

As a result, he defended the title he won in 2022 as he won the Senior Net title in a scorecard playoff.

“I started off the day and my plan was not to hit a wedge or anything that would be high and get up into the wind,” he said. “I wanted to hit full shots that I could knock down. That worked until the last eight or nine holes when we were downwind and it got to be difficult. Considering all that we had to deal with it all worked out.”

He added he had to improvise during the round.

“I can’t recall hitting so many 3-woods into par 4s before,” he said with a laugh. “It was absolutely brutal out there.”

LiCausi said hitting good shots wasn’t the only tough part of the day.

“Considering all we had to deal with, even pulling the right club was a challenge,” he said. “I did putt very well. I made a lot of six or seven footers for par and that was really big.”

And that challenge put another major on his resume.

“Defending my title and going back-to-back is great,” he said. “I think this is my ninth or 10th major and it’s great to walk away with another one.”

Senior Net

Jim LiCausi, 74-83—157

Martin Guzman, 73-84—157

Gregory Diedrich, 78-81—159


Gary Carpendale is the first to admit it was quite the struggle to win his second tournament of 2023 and second in a row.

In fact, it took a playoff for him to post the victory.

Carpendale won the title with a par on the first playoff hole and beat Chris Cookson.

“It was a tough weekend,” Carpendale said. “But it’s a major so it’s a big deal. The majors are totally my focal point. That’s what I want to win.”

He said this is one of the toughest majors, of which he is around 20 wins for his career, that he’s won.

“This was one of the toughest days of golf I have seen,” he said. “The greens here are fast and the wind was blowing so hard that a couple of times I ran from the cart to mark my ball before it blew off.”

Carpendale said the par on the first playoff hole was anything but routine.

“It was crazy,” he said. “We both hit drives but I was in a little trouble. I hit a good 3-wood to get it back in play. We both wound up in the bunker 75 yards away. Then we both hit shots that was 7-feet, 6-inches from the hole so we flipped a coin to see who would putt first. He hit a putt that lipped out and then missed the comeback putt. I lipped out the putt on the high side but made the comeback putt.”


x-Gary Carpendale, 70-80—150

Chris Cookson, 70-80—150

Patrick Woerner, 72-79—151

x-Won on first playoff hole

Silver Net

Ernie Ortega had three net birdies to close out his opening round of the tournament and rode that to a three-stroke victory.

It was his second SNGA victory and the first in two and a half years.

“I’m in shock,” Ortega said. “I thought there’s no way I won. I mean I even took a seven on a par-3. That’s definitely not good. I left the course thinking there’s no way I had a chance to win.”

In the end it was his play Saturday that kept him in the hunt and, eventually, got him back in the winner’s circle.

“I just tried to hang in there (Saturday),” he said. “The round came together with that 39 on the back nine.”

Then came Sunday…and more wind.

“It was just so bad today,” he said. “In fact, I can’t even think straight with all of the wind and cold.”

But he just kept plodding along.

“I told myself to go on to the next shot…on to the next hole and just try to stay with it,” he said. “I tried to tell myself to forget about the wind but that was very tough.”

Silver Net

Ernie Ortega, 71-81—152

Bryan Link, 75-80—155

Walter Sabati, 77-79—156

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