LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Aug. 5, 2018)–Daren Johnson rode a red-hot start to victory in the 2018 Nevada State Mid-Amateur. Johnson birdied three of his first four holes on the tournament’s first day and went on to beat Ed Fryatt (TPC Las Vegas) by four strokes. The leaders were a powerful group of players and former Mid-Am champions. —By Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
Johnson, an SNGA 1967 club member, said his fast start in the tournament, an opening-round 5-under-par 66, definitely set the tone for him in the three-day event held Aug. 3-5, 2018 at Las Vegas National GC.
“That start definitely was great,” said Johnson, the 2017 Nevada State Amateur champion. “It helped put me in a great frame of mind.”
Despite the hot start, he knew there were still plenty of challenges facing him the final two days.
“I had a five-shot lead after the first day but I knew playing out here can get a little dicey,” he said. “And I knew Ed (Fryatt, the 2015 and 2016 event winner) and Kenny (Ebalo, the 2014 event winner and Southern Highlands member) would bounce back and they did.”
Johnson’s game plan was simple for the second day of the tournament.
“I knew it was my tournament to dictate so I just tried to look forward,” he said. “I didn’t have as good a putting day the second day and I was a little lazy with some tee shots but overall my ball-striking was good.”
Then came the final round.
“I just tried to stay focused,” he said. “I wanted to try and mimic my game-plan for the first day. I knew Tim (Brand, SNGA tournament director) and the SNGA staff would firm up the course so there probably weren’t going to be any 65s. I just wanted to play my game and treat the round like we were just coming out of the gate and were all even.”
He added the victory boosted his confidence after a less-than-stellar outing at the Pacific Coast Amateur the end of July.
“This win is big,” he said. “I just got back from the Pacific Coast Amateur and I struggled the final day. Entering this tournament, I knew I needed to win. I hadn’t won this year and now I’m energized…my game is back where it needs to be.”
But, he said the Pacific Coast outing did help him.
“You always learn more from your losses,” he said. “I definitely had to re-evaluate my game-plan. This week it all worked out well.”
2018 Nevada State Mid-Amateur
Daren Johnson, 66-73-70—209
Ed Fryatt, 75-66-72—213
Kenny Ebalo, 72-72-73—217