Kodoma wins playoff at Nevada State Amateur Championship | NevadaAppeal.com
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Kodoma wins playoff at Nevada State Amateur Championship

Jeremy Evans

GENOA — After a 45-minute lightning delay and a four-man playoff, it was a 22-year-old whose only lived in Nevada 18 months who emerged as the state amateur champion.

Las Vegas’ Matt Kodoma sunk a 6-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole to win the 2003 Nevada State Amateur Championship on Thursday at the Golf Club at Genoa Lakes. It was the first time Kodoma, who will be a senior at the University of Hawai’i, has ever won a tournament by a playoff. Despite his inexperience, he had a decent strategy.

“I just had to concentrate on my own game and play for par and hope to get lucky and birdie,” said Kodoma, whose only other tournament playoff was one he lost in junior golf. “All week, I played exactly how I wanted to play, hit fairways and greens. I played pretty solid.”

Kodoma, defending champion Cullen Brasfield, University of Nevada’s Ian Hagen, and Lowry High graduate Ben Bryson all finished with a three-day total of 206 (10-under). Brasfield shot a tournament best 7-under 65 on Thursday to finish at 10-under. But he bogeyed the first playoff hole when the other three parred.

“I’m not really that frustrated,” said Brasfield, a former Nevada star who was the runner up in 1999. “Of course, I wanted to beat those guys, but I didn’t really hit a bad shot all day. I played really well. It would’ve been nice to get my name on the trophy twice as the guy who won it. But I guess I’ll be on there as the runner up.”

On the second playoff hole, Bryson, who will be a junior at Washington State, bogeyed when Kodoma and Hagen parred. On the third playoff hole, Hagen’s tee shot landed on the right hand side of the 360-yard par-4 11th. Kodoma’s tee shot split the fairway and then his approach shot landed six feet from the cup. Hagen’s second shot left him a 35-foot birdie putt, which he rolled two feet past the hole. That allowed Kodoma, who moved to Las Vegas from Spokane, Wash., an easy putt for birdie.

“I was kind of lucky to get into the playoff because Ian missed his putt on No. 18 (in regulation),” said Kodoma, who bogeyed only four of 57 holes this week. “This is as good as I’ve hit the ball in several years.”

Kodoma, Bryson, Hagen and Joe Sawaia were all paired in the final group during regulation. Play was suspended as they approached the 17th tee because of lightning in the area. After a 45-minute delay, the final group had to face gusty winds and intermittent rain.

Hagen and Kodoma could’ve parred No. 18 , which would’ve forced only a two-man playoff. But both bogeyed after missing par-saving putts. Bryson, though, had a chance to win the tournament outright. But the Winnemucca native double bogeyed No. 16. The hiccup disrupted what was turning into an impressive back nine. Bryson was at 3-under on the backside before the his double bogey, but birdied No. 17 to finish the back nine at 2-under..

Notes…This year was only the second time in the tournament’s 50-year history that there were three runner-up finishers. It also happened in 1999…Had Brasfield won, he would’ve been the second consecutive back-to-back champion, which would’ve been a first in tournament history. Billy Harvey, a former Bonanza High star, won titles in 2000 and 2001…Carson City’s Jeff Duncan shot a final-round 73 to finish in a four-way tie for 11th place.