RENO, Nev. (Aug. 2, 2017)–William Duenas won the first two holes of the title match in the 2017 Nevada State Net Amateur en route to a drama-filled 1-up victory over Jason Buckholz. The tournament was played July 30-Aug. 1, 2017, at Toiyabe Golf Club in Washoe Valley.
Duenas’ early tournament goals were easy. “I was just trying to get into the match play,” said Duenas, who is retired from the military and tries to play as much competitive golf as he can. “When I made it, I was already happy.”
Duenas was the highest seed remaining at No. 3 after the quarterfinal round matches. He beat No. 6 seed Gary Hatlestad 3-and-2. Buckholz, the 8th seed after stroke-play qualifying rounds and the 2016 champion, upended the top seed, Dan Lyons, 4-and-3 in the quarterfinals. The other two quarterfinal winners included: No. 5 seed John Tover (3-and-2 over No. 4 seed Evan Shane); No. 7 seed Larry Wall (a 3-and-2 winner over No. 2 Douglas Smeltzer)
Duenas then beat Wall 1-up in the semifinals while Buckholz knocked off Tovar 3-and-2 to set up the finale.
“I wasn’t really confident going into the (championship) match,” Duenas said. “I was just happy to be there. I had accepted that I wasn’t going to win…I just wanted to play my best.”
In the title match, Duenas got off to a fast start winning the second and third holes to go 2-up. The score stayed that way until Buckholz won the ninth to make the turn just 1-down.
“When I got 2-up that early, I just said to myself to try and keep up with him,” Duenas said. “I wanted to match him par for par. He’s a fighter and I knew he would come back.”
There were plenty of fireworks to come.
Duenas won the 10th and 11th holes to move out to a 3-up lead but Buckholz won the 13th and was back to just 2-down.
Another win by Duenas on the 14th put the lead back to 3-up. But Buckholz refused to go away and won the 15th to get back to just 2-down with three to play.
They halved the 16th hole and Buckholz won the par-3 17th with a par and was just 1-down heading to the 18th.
Both players parred the hole, giving Duenas the 1-up victory.
“It was a very hard-fought match from the first hole to 18,” Duenas said. “It was like pressure…pressure…pressure. I was playing one of the best players. Even when I was 2-up with two to go I still didn’t feel like I had it.”
In the end, it was a par putt that sealed the win.