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Las Vegas golfer finds a home and success on Champions Tour

Updated May 11, 2021 - 2:58 pm

Alex Cejka is a golf lifer. He’s played the PGA, European and Korn Ferry tours, plus mini-tours around the world.

But the Las Vegas resident may have finally found a permanent home on Sunday with his unlikely victory at the Regions Tradition, the year’s first major on the Champions Tour.

Cejka got into the tournament as an alternate when Jay Haas withdrew early in the week. He took advantage, making birdie on the first playoff hole to take down defending champion Steve Stricker at Greystone Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama.

“It’s a dream come true,” Cejka said on Sunday. “I mean, everybody grinds for so many years, and it’s just incredible right now. I have no words.”

Cejka, 50, has played wherever he could during his career, winning four times in Europe and once in a secondary event on the PGA Tour. When the coronavirus shut down most of golf, he even played and won twice on the Outlaw Tour in Arizona just for somewhere to play.

Most recently, he’s been playing the Korn Ferry Tour and was supposed to be in the field in his hometown MGM Resorts Championship at Paiute last month. But instead, he flew across the country and Monday qualified for that week’s Champions Tour event in Naples, Florida. A second-place finish there — to Stricker — gave him a shot at getting into the Regions Tradition, and he capitalized.

Despite the huge stage, Cejka said he didn’t have a lot of nerves on the weekend.

“Playing for so many years and being under pressure for so many tournaments and trying to win tournaments, you get tougher,” he said. “So when you finally come back into a position like this, you’re not nervous.”

His win gives him an exemption on the Champions Tour through the end of 2022 and a regular gig.

“I know I belong here, and I want to play here many, many years,” he said. “And so far, I’m showing the signs that I can play here.”

Cejka has one of the more interesting stories in golf. Alexander Cejka Sr. took 9-year-old Alex and fled communist Czechoslovakia in 1980 by foot, train, bike and swimming to settle in Germany and give his son a chance at a better life.

“I am very grateful what he did to me,” Cejka said of his father. “That started a different life for me. And look where I am right now. So I’m very happy.”

Boulder City Amateur

Jackson Parrish gave himself an early graduation present over the weekend, earning the title at the Boulder City Amateur by two shots over Tanner Johnson.

Parrish, a senior at Coral Academy of Science and one of the top high school players in Nevada, shot rounds of 66 Saturday at Boulder City Golf Course and 70 Sunday at Boulder Creek Golf Club.

Parrish, who will play next year for Colorado School of Mines, had 10 birdies and an eagle over the weekend and was the only player in the field to shoot both rounds under par.

Rick Sepp beat Todd Roberts on the second playoff hole to win the Senior championship after both finished at 1-over 145.

It was a remarkable comeback for Sepp, who bogeyed five consecutive holes on his opening nine on Saturday. His 69 on Sunday was the low round of the weekend among the Seniors.

Other winners included Jesus Medina (Championship Net), Jim Licausi (Senior Net), Steven Fink (Silver Gross) and Jack Schwartz (Silver Net).

U.S. Open Qualifier

Seventy-eight players with big dreams will tee it up Monday at Paiute’s Sun Mountain Course in one of the last of 110 local qualifiers for the U.S. Open.

Four players at Paiute will advance to sectional qualifying June 7 to try to earn a spot at Torrey Pines June 17-20.

Greg Robertson is a freelance reporter who covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at robertsongt@gmail.com.

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