After a commitment to creating better teams, the Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association saw success in the process. The Southern Nevada junior golf squad snapped a three-year losing streak in defeating Utah in the 2023 Jay Don Blake Border Wars tournament, 329-319. –by Bill Bowman, www.LasVegasGolfInsider.com
The event pits junior golfers, both boys and girls, from Southern Nevada and Utah in a Ryder Cup-style format. The tournament was held May 5-6, 2023, at Boulder Creek Golf Club and Boulder City Golf Course. The two-day event saw the teams play 36 holes of two-person team play on Friday followed by singles matches on Saturday.
The first session on Friday, a modified alternate shot format, saw the Southern Nevada team win the session 84.50-77.50.
Utah won the second session, four-ball matches, by the same score of 84.50-77.50.
That left the event tied, 162.0-162.0, heading into the singles finale on Saturday.
“When we wrapped up Friday, it couldn’t have been any closer,” said Renee Rocco, who managed the Southern Nevada squad along with Karl Larcom. “It made for a pretty exciting last day.”
That second day saw the Southern Nevada team post a 167.0-157.0 victory in the singles portion of the tournament to claim the title.
The Border War began in 2016 with Utah winning the first of three straight titles. Southern Nevada won in 2019 before Utah again put up three straight wins.
Brynn Kort and Lilly DeNunzio led the Southern Nevada attack as both went 3-0 with two of the victories coming in the team events.
They had the only perfect record for the Southern Nevada team.
The duo teamed up for 14.5 point in the four-ball portion and added 12.5 points in the foursomes. In the singles, DeNunzio had 12.0 points while Kort added 10 points.
“I was just out there with my high school teammate and we were just out there having fun,” DeNunzio said. “We didn’t think about the pressure.”
She added it was nice to snap the losing streak.
“We had already lost three in a row,” she said. “We just all went out there, tried our best and had fun. We were pretty surprised we were leading after the first round but then Utah came back and tied us up. It was just super-competitive and super fun.”
Rocco agreed the team came out with a positive attitude.
“We knew our girls were really strong and having them matched up like we did…they just played well,” Rocco said. “In fact, everyone really stepped up and played good golf. It was a total team effort.”
Rocco added Larcom was a big factor in that aspect of the tournament.
“Karl got out with them in a few practices to see who worked well with others,” Rocco said. “Those matchups worked well together.”
Rocco said Boulder Creek also added to the challenge.
“There’s nothing easy about the golf course,” Rocco said. “The greens were tough, the pins were tough and it was windy out there today. It wasn’t easy for either side.”
In the end, Rocco said the format really added to the excitement for both teams.
“In most Ryder Cup style matches, when you win…say 4-and-3… the match is over and you’re done,” she said. “But in this format, everyone played out the match. Players got one point for a win on a hole and a half-point for tying a hole. So no matter if you won big or lost big, there were still points out there for the holes remaining that were very valuable. Everyone kept grinding until the very end.”
For a look at the complete tournament results, go to: golfgenius.com/pages/9358536622171268020