Chase Carlson of Puyallup, Wash. tapped in an 18-inch birdie putt on the sixth playoff hole to win the 90th Washington State Men’s Amateur Championship. Carlson outlasted Derek Bayley of Rathdrum, Idaho when Bayley’s five-foot birdie attempt had lipped out.
The 54-hole championship was held at historic Tacoma Country & Golf Club, and was conducted by the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA).
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After matching scores on the first five playoff holes, Carlson pulled out a three-wood for his second shot on the par-5 18th hole and drilled it 294 yards to the back edge of the green. His ensuing chip led to the tap-in birdie and the win.
Carlson had held the first round lead, shooting a 6-under par 66, but stumbled in yesterday’s second with a 2-over 74. In today’s final round, Carlson played in the final group, paired with second-round leader Joe Highsmith who started the day with a four-stroke lead.
In today’s final round, Carlson hung around long enough to get himself back into contention. He made the turn at 1-over par, but birdied 13 and then vaulted into a tie for the lead with an eagle on the par-5 16th.
Of the eagle putt, Carlson said, “I’ve played this course a hundred times, and I’ve hardly ever seen the hole in the location it was today (back-right). The putt had a huge break in it, and I knew if it wasn’t going in it would have ended up six feet past.”
Of seeing the names of the other past champions on the trophy, Carlson said, “This is definitely the biggest win for me.”
Both Carlson and Highsmith are junior members of Tacoma Country & Golf Club, and had a large gallery following them. Caddying for Carlson was John Dimmer, a member and also a past champion of Tacoma.
Carlson, 19, was a standout at Puyallup Senior High School and will be a sophomore at Colorado Christian University, where he redshirted last year and is looking forward to competing with the team this coming year.
Bayley began the day six strokes behind the leader Highsmith, but has developed a reputation for going on a run. He had seven birdies today, and after curling in an 18-foot birdie on the par-3 15th hole he found himself with a two-stroke lead. His 4-under par 68 was the best round of the day.
But on the next hole, a short par-5 that he had eagled in yesterday’s second round, Bayley hooked his tee shot into the trees, had to punch out, and ended up with a bogey. “That hole definitely hurt,” he said later. “I knew I gave away shots there. I got to give credit to Chase. He’s a good player and he hit the shots when he had to hit them.”
Carlson and Highsmith, playing two groups behind Bayley, picked up grounded on the 16th hole, with Highsmith a birdie and Carlson curling in a 35-foot eagle putt. After the 16th hole, there was suddenly a three-way tie for the lead.
Highsmith bogeyed the 18th hole when his greenside bunker shot didn’t make it to the putting surface. His bogey left him out of the playoff.
Earlier this summer, Bayley, who will be a junior at Washington State University, won the Idaho State Amateur and also the Rosauers Open Invitational, a PGA club professional tournament in which he shot a 59 in the second round.
Highsmith, 16, was bidding to become the youngest champion. He was the qualifying medalist for the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur, eventually making it to the Round of 32 in that championship. Last month he won the AJGA Ryan Moore Junior Championship, and last week finished second in the WJGA State Championship. Highsmith will be a junior at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, and has already committed to attend Southern Methodist University after graduation.
This year’s championship received a record number of entries, as 301 competitors vied for a spot in the field of 120 players who will compete in the championship proper.
The Washington State Men’s Amateur is a counting event for the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Past champions of the Washington State Men’s Amateur include Fred Couples, Alex Prugh, Brock Mackenzie, Chris Williams, Kermit Zarley, John Bodenhamer, and Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Famers Al Mengert, Bud Ward, Jack Westland and Harry Givan, among many others.
Founded in 1894, Tacoma Country & Golf Club is the oldest golf club in the U.S. west of the Mississippi, and one of the original founding clubs of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA).
Originally designed in its current location by the great Canadian architect Stanley Thompson, the club has been the site of numerous national championships, including the 1961 U.S. Women’s Amateur, 1984 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, 1994 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and the 2007 U.S. Junior Girls’. It has hosted the Washington Open three times (1932, 1997, 1998), and the Northwest Open seven times (1910, 1915, 1925, 1931, 1966, 1979, 1985). It was the site of the first PNGA Championship (1899).