Kelly Knievel (Senior) and Rich Morrison (Silver) won gross division crowns in the 2019 Nevada State Senior Championship held July 19-21, 2019, at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Reflection Bay Golf Club. Jim LiCausi (Senior) and Ken Perry (Silver) came away with the net titles. –By Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
It came down to the 54th and final hole before Kelly Knievel won his first state title.
Knievel posted a one-under-par 71 during the final round but came to the final hole one stroke behind Todd Roberts. Knievel made a 30-footer for birdie while Roberts finished with a double bogey that gave Knievel the two-stroke victory. Roberts had grabbed the lead with a birdie on the 17th hole. Knievel is the son of daredevil Evel Knievel.
“It was one of those days,” Knievel said. “I knew exactly where I was all day. I was one down…then two down…then tied…then one down and then Todd had a mishap on the final hole and I got a read on a putt (from a playing competitor’s putt) and made it.”
It’s been awhile between high-profile victories for Knievel. “I won the city championship 15…no, maybe 20 years ago, but this was my first state title,” he said. “It all flies by after all these years.”
Knievel said the key was his composure. “I just kept my wits about me,” he said. “I’m usually a really emotional player but I kept my emotions in check figuring I’d have a chance. I kept saving par and telling myself ‘you’re going to have a chance’ and sure enough, I had a chance.”
He added the 10th hole was pivotal in both his mental approach to the round as well as his shot-making. “I pulled a tee shot into the hazard,” he said. “As soon as I hit it there I told myself, ‘OK, you can still make par.’ And sure enough I made par after hitting it in the hazard. I just hung around all day.”
He said there were no jitters on the final day. “I was confident,” he said. “I was playing well, putting well and keeping my emotions in check.”
Kelly Knievel, 67-75-71—213
Todd Roberts, 69-73-73—215
Sean Mulvenon, 73-74-70—217
Jim LiCausi credited a challenging Reflection Bay course for his first state title in more years than he cares to admit. He held on for a one-stroke victory over James Corey in the Senior Net division.
“When I play good courses that are challenging as well, my game seems to rise above,” he said.
This was his third state title, but it’s been awhile between wins. “I won the state net amateur title back in ’95 or ’96 and I won the state match play title around 2010 or 2011,” he said. “It’s definitely been some time between state wins but I did stop playing for awhile.”
He said his game was solid all three days. “I rely on my short game and my chipping and putting were good,” he said. “And my driver was fairly decent.”
In fact, he only had one complaint about his game. “I took a seven on one hole (No. 2 in the second round),” he said. “Otherwise I stayed clean the whole tournament. When you play a quality course like this and only have one bad hole, that’s a big deal.”
Jim LiCausi, 69-72-70—211
James Corey, 64-74-74—212
Doug Pool, 70-71-72—213
Rich Morrison struck early in the final round en route to winning the Silver Division state title as he edged Dan Parkinson.
Morrison had two birdies in his first five holes to erase a two-stroke deficit and win his first state title. Well, at least in Nevada.
“I won an Arizona senior stroke play event, but this is my first win here. That was maybe in ’08 or ’09…somewhere in that area,” he said with a laugh.
He said his final round, a one-under-par 71, was a great way to finish. “I definitely played better today,” he said following rounds of 75-75. “I didn’t have any bad holes and didn’t make any mistakes.”
His putting also carried him over the three days. “I made all the putts I had to in the 6-to-8 foot range which always helps,” he said. “I didn’t realize it, but today I hit 17 greens. I had a lot of 20-to-30 footers, but my lag putting was good and I didn’t put any pressure on myself.”
But, it did get close down the stretch. “I made the turn at two-under,” he said. “Then I hit my only bad putt. I had about a 4-footer (for birdie) and I missed it. That would have gotten me to three strokes ahead of two other guys. Then I made a couple of bogeys but I was able to make a birdie right after those and get a two-shot cushion again which I needed.”
Rich Morrison, 75-75-71—221
Dan Parkinson, 76-74-72—222
Kevin Parrish, 75-73-76—224
Ken Perry’s consistency paid off in the Silver Net title in his first foray into playing state tournament events. He posted a three-shot victory over John Kelley.
“It was pretty close,” Perry said. “I had some players nipping at my heels.”
He said his overall game was solid all weekend. “I stayed away from the big numbers,” he said. “I’m a 9 (handicap) and shot 78, 79 and 80 so I was pretty close. I only had one double bogey all weekend so I was happy with that.”
He added it’s easy to play well if you stay out of trouble. “For the most part I was hitting a lot of greens,” he said. “I only made one birdie but I put the ball in the right spots. My course management was very good.”
He went into the final round with the lead and tried to stay positive. “I knew I was ahead going into the final round and just tried not to think too much about it,” he said. “I just wanted to concentrate on my game and not worry about anyone else.”
Ken Perry, 69-70-71—210
John Kelley, 74-67-72—213
Greg Levitt, 71-73-71—215