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Golfer rides roller-coaster finish to big win to open SNGA season

Craig Erickson began his 2024 season on the right foot by winning the Southern Nevada Golf Association’s Tournament of Champions on Monday.

Erickson fired a 1-under 71 at Reflection Bay for a two-stroke win over Grant McKay. The win was anything but routine down the stretch. Erickson had no pars on his scorecard from the ninth through the 16th holes, a stretch that included five birdies and three bogeys. He parred the final two holes to secure victory.

“With the dormant fairways, if you missed a green it was tough to chip,” Erickson said. “I had a couple of short-sided chips when I missed greens and made a couple of bogeys, but they were offset with birdies.”

It helped to be playing on one of his favorite courses in the area, one that was closed for several months in 2023 to redo all the greens.

“I’ve always loved Reflection Bay,” Erickson said. “I was anxious to see the new greens, and I’ve always been impressed with the layout.”

Brady Exber added to his Hall of Fame resume in the Senior division, shooting an even-par 72 for a five-shot win over three players. It came on the same day the SNGA’s 2023 player of the year awards were passed out. Josh Goldstein picked up the newly named Brady Exber Championship Player of the Year Award.

“It’s honestly like a dream,” Exber said of the honor. “If I start to think of how grateful I am, I don’t even have words for it.”

In the Silver division, Mark Dopheide overcame a triple bogey on No. 13 to shoot 2-over 74 and post a one-stroke win over Dave Schoepp.

In the Women’s competition, Ronda Henderson added another trophy to her collection. She used a pair of birdies to shoot 77 and hold off Christina Brandt by one stroke.

Other winners included Doug Shrader (championship net), Exber (senior net), Schoepp (silver net) and Jill Morrison (women’s net).

McNealy gains full status

A tie for 37th at Torrey Pines wouldn’t normally be cause for celebration, but Maverick McNealy’s finish over the weekend secured his PGA Tour playing privileges for the rest of the season.

The Las Vegas golfer was playing on a major medical exemption to start the year after missing five months in 2023 with a torn ligament that connects the sternum to the collar bone. He had 11 events in 2024 to secure enough FedEx points to reach top 125 status. McNealy made it in just three.

He will be in the field this week at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, earning a sponsor’s invitation to the $20 million, limited field signature event.

McNealy has history at Pebble Beach. His childhood home was located near the course, and he had his closest call to a PGA Tour win with a second-place finish at the tournament in 2021. It’s also the location where he suffered the injury that sidelined him during last year’s event.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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