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Houston’s Brett White wins Nevada Open after major illness

In 2017, Brett White was in the hospital for three weeks battling viral encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

On Thursday, White, from Houston, won the 2019 Nevada Open at the CasaBlanca Golf Club in Mesquite and the $31,350 first-place prize.

White finished at 19-under 196. He made seven birdies and an eagle during a final-round 64 to hold off Palo Verde product Brandon Bauman, who shot 63 in the final round and finished two shots behind. Drew McCullough from Richland, Washington, finished third at 14-under 201.

“This is definitely the biggest tournament I have ever won,” an emotional White said. “I was in the zone and really struck my irons well. I made three birdies on par 3 holes today, and they were playing long. Everything was clicking.”

White said he took a year off from golf, from the middle of 2017 until the middle of 2018, “because I was sick, so coming back within the last 15 months to start playing and to win is incredible.”

White said he was hospitalized, then went through 10 weeks of physical therapy. “I started in a wheelchair and then had to learn how to walk again. This really means a lot to get this win.”

Bauman lost in a playoff at the 2018 Big West conference tournament as a senior at Cal-Santa Barbara and then played in Southern Nevada Golf Association and other amateur tournaments before turning professional in March.

“I was happy to stick to my game plan,” Bauman said about his Nevada Open performance. “I came into this tournament not really hitting it too great, but I stuck to what my coach, Tom Carlson, told me a few weeks ago. He said, ‘Instead of going flag hunting every hole, become a par hunter.’

“I tend to get a little aggressive on the course and live by the sword and die by the sword. So changing my mindset has done wonders for me.”

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