Reno, Nev. (Oct. 2, 2018)–Daren Johnson grabbed an early 2-up lead and went on to beat Ed Fryatt 2-and-1 to win the 2018 Nevada State Match Play Championship in an all-Southern Nevada Golf Association finale. The event was held Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 2018, at Hidden Valley Country Club in Reno, Nev.–By Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff
“Everyone in the tournament was a good player,” Johnson said. “And to win a hole, you had to hit great shots or make putts. I definitely felt like my course management was good. Overall I definitely felt good about the way I played.”
The tournament, featuring some of the top players from the SNGA and the NNGA, started off with a stroke-play seeding round on Sunday, Sept. 30, that left Johnson as the No. 1 seed with a two-under-par round of 70 while Fryatt came in at No. 5 with a five-over-par round of 77.
In the match play rounds, Johnson had a first-round bye before picking up a 3-and-2 win over Mark Parent and a 2-and-1 win over Jason Krueger.
Fryatt opened with a 4-and-2 victory over Todd Roberts followed by a 1-up victory over David Nelson and a 2-up win over Kenny Ebalo.
That set up the finale.
Johnson took the early lead, going 2-up through the first four holes.
“It was great to win a couple of holes early but you never want to get complacent,” Johnson said. “When you’re playing against Ed, a two-shot lead isn’t a comforting feeling because he really brings it every time.”
That lead held up as the duo made the turn.
Fryatt won the 10th to cut the lead to one hole.
“Once we made the turn and he won the 10th hole it was kind of a wakeup call and I had to get aggressive again,” Johnson said.
He did just that, winning the 12th and 13th to go to a 3-up lead with five to play.
Fryatt rallied again and won the 14th to slice the lead to two holes before the duo halved the next three holes to give Johnson the 2-and-1 victory.
“All-in-all it was a very consistent tournament,” Johnson said. “I hit a couple of bad shots but for the most part when I missed a fairway I still hit the green and I putted pretty decently.”
Fryatt gave Johnson all the credit. “My hats off to Daren,” Fryatt said. “He did what he had to do. He hit a lot of greens and made putts. That’s two state championships this year for him. That’s very impressive.”
Johnson highlights include the 2017 Nevada State Amateur, the 2018 Mid-Amateur (with Fryatt finishing second) and now the 2018 Nevada State Match Play.