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Sawaia ends playoff with chip-in win

Joe Sawaia was tired of freezing, so he decided to get the Clark County Amateur over as quickly as possible.

Sawaia chipped in for birdie from off the fringe on the first extra hole to beat Brady Exber at Boulder Creek Golf Club on Sunday and win the final Southern Nevada Golf Association “major” of 2009.

Sawaia and Exber tied at 2-under-par 142 in the 36-hole event after Exber made bogey on No. 18. In the playoff, Sawaia had a tough lie near the green on the par-4, 437-yard first hole.

“I had a bad angle, so I couldn’t really putt it,” he said. “So I used my wedge and let it run out. Fortunately for me, it went in.”

In blustery conditions with temperatures in the upper 40s, nobody in the Scratch Division broke par 72. Sawaia, wearing a UNLV ski hat, said it was more about surviving than shot-making.

“The weather beat us up a little,” he said. “You had to really focus on every shot.”

Exber won the Clark County Senior Amateur on Friday but was unable to complete a rare weekend double.

“This is the one I’ve never been able to win,” he said. “But Joe played great, and he deserved it.”

Sawaia, who coaches boys golf at Coronado High School, said it was a great way to end his year as a player.

“This was a very deep field, and we had one of my former players (Josh Vornsand) and one of my current players (A.J. McInerney) in our group. That made it very special for me and a lot of fun,” Sawaia said.

In the Net Division, Chris Boyer closed with a 74, but his 63 on Saturday was so strong that he had plenty of cushion to beat Mike Bridges by 10 shots.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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