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Former Pepperdine golfer captures Nevada Open title

At first glance, a bogey-free, final-round 7-under 65 seemed to be the key to Joshua Anderson winning the Nevada Open last week in Mesquite.

But for Anderson, it was the even-par 72 two days earlier that was the difference.

Anderson, a resident of Goodyear, Arizona, and a former college player at Pepperdine, took home the state title and the $31,350 first prize after finishing at 12-under 204, one stroke better than Phoenix resident Zach Smith.

“I didn’t think my first round was that bad and was pretty happy with the 72,” he said of his opener at Casablanca Golf Club. “It was windy, so I actually felt like I played pretty well that first round. The conditions were very difficult, so obviously my score didn’t reflect how well I played. But obviously, I played great the next two rounds.”

Anderson shot 67 on day two at Palms Golf Club, then finished with the 65 at Casablanca. He made 14 birdies and one double-bogey over his final 36 holes.

“I played really well in the final round. I did not make a bogey in the final round, and that is always great to do,” the 35-year-old said. “Besides that, the first thing that comes to mind is the big check, to be honest. It’s 31 grand, and that is very nice.”

Smith made a strong run at the title, making birdies on five of his first six holes to start the final round. But he spun his wheels after that, playing the final 12 holes in even-par to fall one shot shy.

“I just played solid,” Anderson said. “I drove it really good. I was in pretty much the fairway all day. I putted well, too. I made some critical par saves when I did get in trouble, but just hit some good shots.”

The low amateur was Grant McKay, a 2016 Coronado High graduate who works for the Southern Nevada Golf Association and Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association. McKay shot rounds of 74-72-71 to finish at 1-over 217 in a tie for 49th.

“I think it’s going to open a few doors hopefully, but at the least it will give me some confidence to start playing in some big events,” McKay said. “I proved to myself that I can definitely compete.”

Season finales

The PGA Tour and LPGA Tour seasons come to an end this week, and there’s plenty on the line.

Three numbers loom big on the PGA Tour, as players battle to get inside the top 125 on the points list to retain full playing status for next season, the top 150 to retain conditional status, or the top 60 to gain entry into the first two signature events in 2024.

Among Las Vegas golfers:

— Doug Ghim sits at No. 121 and can keep his card most likely by making the cut in the finale this week in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

— Ryan Moore’s strong week in Bermuda moved him up to No. 128, and he’ll need another high finish in Georgia to move into safety.

— Scott Piercy at No. 133 most likely needs a top-five finish to have any chance of cracking the 125 barrier.

— Maverick McNealy is at 127, but regardless of his finish this week, he’ll continue to play in 2024 on a major medical exemption after missing the bulk of the 2023 season.

— Charley Hoffman is the bubble boy at No. 150, although as a past champion he will continue to have some status should he fall below the cutoff.

— Taylor Montgomery at No. 55 is virtually guaranteed to remain in the top 60 and safe to earn spots at Pebble Beach and Riviera in February.

On the LPGA Tour, three Las Vegas players qualified for the 60-player CME Group Tour Championship: Alison Lee (26), Jenny Shin (33) and Danielle Kang (53). Lee is among the hottest players in the game, with her past three starts including two seconds on the LPGA Tour and a runaway win on the Ladies European Tour.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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