Kenny Ebalo won the 2020 Nevada State Mid-Amateur held July 31-Aug. 2, 2020, at Rio Secco Golf Club. Ebalo’s final-round two-under-par 70 helped him post a seven-shot victory over Craig Erickson (Spanish Trail) in the three-day event played in 100-plus degree temperatures. Ebalo won the event in 2014, which, coincidentally, was also held at Rio Secco. –by Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
Heading into the final round only Ebalo was under par at -1 while Craig Erickson came in at even-par. Next closest was Todd Roberts at four-over-par.
But Ebalo (Southern Highlands), after a second-hole bogey on Sunday, played the final 16 holes in three-under par to coast to the win. Erickson was second followed by Northern Nevada’s Ron Hansen (Reno Carson Club) and Roberts (Southern Highlands).
Ebalo is in his final year as president of the Southern Nevada Golf Association, and has seen his play in 2020 limited to mostly Vegas events.
“It’s been a combination of things,” Ebalo said. “The Covid-19 thing threw a wrench into everything as the events I would have played nationally got cancelled.”
But, the good news—at least for Ebalo—is he’s been able to tee it up in Las Vegas a little more often.
“I’m playing more here now because I don’t have anywhere else to go,” he said with a laugh. “And I’m getting into a rhythm.”
He added the main reason he’s been able to tee it up is the work of the people behind-the-scenes at the SNGA.
“The staff is doing an amazing job in dealing with everything that’s going on right now,” he said. “I’ve also been lucky enough to be very good friends with other members of the board who have gone through being a player and the president. They’ve really helped me handle things.”
But, back on the course, it was Ebalo’s handling of Rio Secco that took center stage.
“I don’t know if it’s my favorite golf course but I do know what you’re supposed to do at this golf course,” he said. “I have a good game plan at this golf course and it worked out.”
That game plan included patience.
“There’s so much target golf on the first nine holes,” he said. “You can’t get away from a game plan. I made a mistake and it cost me on the second hole but I just tried to get yardages I liked before I tried to attack.”
He added the 5th hole was one that showed his shot-making was on point.
“I hit my tee shot in a bunker,” he said. “I was kind of up against the lip on my backswing. It was an uphill shot into the wind. I just tried to make solid contact. I hit a wedge to about 10 feet and made the putt for birdie…crisis averted.”
He admitted that hole could have changed the whole complexion of the tournament.
“At the time I hadn’t built up a lead yet so it could have turned out badly,” he said. “It was a swing that could lead to a double bogey but this time it led to a birdie.”
2020 Nevada State Mid-Amateur
Kenny Ebalo, 72-71-70—213
Craig Erickson, 71-73-76—220
Eric Hansen, 79-71-73—222
Todd Roberts, 79-69-74—222