Mesquite, Nev. (Aug. 27, 2016)–Jason Buckholz is a survivor. Buckholz outlasted the field to win the 2016 Nevada State Net Amateur, beating Arturo Estrada, 3-and-2 in the match-play finale. The event was held Aug. 25-27, 2016, at Falcon Ridge Golf Club in Mesquite, Nev. And when we say outlasted…we mean outlasted in a marathon sense of the term. The tournament is an official event of the Nevada State Golf Association. –By Bill Bowman.

With the reality of five rounds of golf in about a 60-hour time frame, endurance–as well as shot-making prowess–came into play in the tournament.
In the championship match, that featured a pair of golfers representing Reno, Estrada won the second hole to go 1-up before Buckholz went on a run, winning the next four holes to quickly take a 3-up lead through six holes.

The two traded a pair of wins over the next two holes and then halved the ninth as Buckholz made the turn 3-up. He coasted to the 3-and-2 win.

Marathon golf? You bet.

“I’m pretty much done playing golf for a couple of days,” Buckholz said with a laugh. “And it was tougher because my first match (in match play) went to 24 holes. It was just a grind.”

Leading by three at the turn, Buckholz said there was still pressure. “Even three-up, the momentum can swap pretty quickly,” he said. “A couple of loose shots here or there and Arturo is right back in it.”
Buckholz and Estrada have a stranglehold on this title over the last couple of years—Estrada won last year and Buckholz won in 2014 as well as this year.

“Arturo is a good friend of mine and we’ve played a lot of golf against each other,” Buckholz said. “Whether it’s stroke play or match play we both want to win. But it’s a friendly competition.”

Estrada said the tournament is always a great one for him…but it is definitely grinding. “It’s pretty much five tough rounds of golf in three days, especially if you make it to the end,” he said. “I’ll definitely come back again. I played some really good rounds of golf. I absolutely had a great time and this was awesome.”

The tournament opened with the first of two rounds of stroke play (Thursday afternoon and Friday morning) before the field was cut down to the top eight players for the first match-play round (Friday afternoon). The four winners advanced to Saturday morning’s semi-final round setting the stage for the Buckholz vs. Estrada finale on Saturday afternoon.

After the stroke play, Las Vegas’ Jim O’Hare was the low qualifier with a two-day total of 142, even-par. He posted a 71 each day.

He was two strokes better than Estrada, who led after the first day with a 3-under-par 68. Third was another Las Vegan, Jim LiCausi, who was one-stroke back. The final man in the eight-man match-play field was Sparks’ Dennis Young. He and David Perez were tied at +8 with Young winning in a sudden death playoff on the first extra hole.

That set up the first round of match-play on Friday afternoon and the chance for the four winners to advance to the semi-finals. Young beat O’Hare in 19 holes. Buckholz edged Henderson’s Rob Zoine in 24 holes. Estrada took out Andrew Yeh, the hometown entrant from Mesquite, in 21 holes and Las Vegas’ John Garrett beat Licausi, 1-up.

Then came the semi-finals with three players from the north and one representing the south back on the course for Saturday morning action. The finale came into focus when Buckholz eliminated Young, 4-and-2 while Estrada took out Garrett, 3-and-2.

The champ Jason Buckholz with runner-up Arturo Estrada.