Reno–J.J. Gresco saved his best for last in rallying to post a two-stroke victory–aided by an ace in the final round–over Mitchell Abbott in the 2019 Nevada State Amateur held July 9-11, 2019, at Somersett Country Club in Reno. It was Gresco’s first state amateur title as he beat a field of 40 golfers. –By Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.

Gresco, a rising junior on the UNLV golf team, was in disbelief over his victory.

“I didn’t really have a number in my head going into the round,” Gresco said of the final-round two-under-par 70. “I just knew I needed a solid round to have any chance.”

Gresco started the last day four strokes behind leader Abbott, but lightning struck early in the round as Gresco aced the par-3 third hole to close the gap.

“It was playing about 150 yards and I hit a 9-iron,” he said of his first hole-in-one in seven years. “There’s a big ridge to the right and a backstop so I went at the ridge knowing what it should do. I hit it there and thought it should be good. It stopped, spun back and hit the flagstick dead-center on the opposite side of the hole. Once that went in, I thought ‘OK, we’re not out of this.’ ”

But his putter thought otherwise. “I just couldn’t make anything on the front nine,” he said. “Nothing was going in and Mitchell was hitting the ball very well.”

When they made the turn, Gresco was five strokes behind. It got worse quickly as a double-bogey on 11 made it a seven-shot deficit.

But just as fast, he got right back in the hunt on the par-5 13th. He made a birdie on the hole while Abbott put a double bogey on the scorecard.

“I was seven behind with six holes to play,” he said. “But I hit it to eight-feet on the par-5 in two. I didn’t make the eagle putt but made sure I got the birdie so I picked up three shots there.”

The gap kept getting smaller as he also birdied the next hole…and the next…and the next for a run of four-in-a-row. A pair of pars on the final two holes closed out his come-from-behind victory.

“I just wanted to play a solid round,” he said. “It was a mental thing for me to just try and shoot my best score and see what happens.”

Abbott wound up second with Grant McKay, a former Coronado High (Henderson, Nev.) golfer, another two shots back. Former UNLV golfer Edward Fryatt was fourth. Dalton Butler was the top finisher from Northern Nevada in fifth.

2019 Nevada State Amateur

J.J. Gresco, 75-72-70—217

Mitchell Abbott, 74-69-76—219

Grant McKay, 78-73-71—222

Ed Fryatt, 75-77-71—223

Dalton Butler, 81-72-73—226

Complete scores