Haack and Folsom Reign at WSGA Champion of Champions; Crimp and Smego Claim Senior Titles

In the 5th WSGA Champion of Champions, Mike Haack of Bellevue, Wash. defended his title in the men’s division, and Leslie Folsom of Tukwila, Wash. won the women’s; while Keith Crimp of Ellensburg defended his title in the Senior Men’s, and Lisa Smego of Olympia won the Senior Women’s. The two-day stroke play championship was held at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash. and is the traditional kickoff to the region’s championship season.

L-to-R: Mike Haack, Keith Crimp, Leslie Folsom, and Lisa Smego
L-to-R: Mike Haack, Keith Crimp, Leslie Folsom, and Lisa Smego

The field for the annual WSGA Champion of Champions consists of champions of last year’s WSGA championships, club champions at WSGA member clubs throughout the state, and other exemptions (for a complete list, visit www.thewsga.org). The Champion of Champions is the first WSGA championship of the year.

Haack, who was exempted into this year’s championship because he won the Champion of Champions in 2010 and 2013, successfully defended his title in the championship by firing impressive rounds of 69 and 70, for a two-day total of 5-under par 139. He finished two strokes clear of second-place finishers Bjorn Bjorke of Port Orchard, Sandy Vaughan of Seattle and Dave Bates of Renton, Wash. “Yesterday was really windy,” said Haack. “That really was the difference maker. I put up a solid round in difficult conditions, and it helped me play better today.” Haack, who played on the mini-tours a few years, got his amateur status reinstated and now plays out of Meridian Valley Country Club, where he works. “I’ll play in next week’s PNGA Cup (also to be held at The Home Course), and then play as much as I can the rest of this year; try to qualify for the U.S. Amateur again, the U.S. Mid-Am, and anything else I have time for.” Haack was the 2013 WSGA Men’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year. Watch Haack’s interview here.

Folsom came back in today’s round with an impressive 2-over par 74 in cold weather conditions to win the title by six strokes over Denise Kieffer of University Place, Wash., who won this championship in 2009. “Yesterday was a difficult day with the weather,” Folsom said. “The wind was blowing 25-30 miles an hour, and the ball was oscillating on the greens. Tough conditions. So today was a little better. I hit the ball real solidly all day, and was never really in any trouble.” Folsom won the Washington State Women’s Mid-Amateur last year, and was selected to play in last year’s USGA Women’s State Team Championship. She was named the 2013 WSGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year. “It’s a good start to this year,” said Folsom. “I’m looking forward to playing in a few upcoming events, like the Washington State Women’s Amateur.” Watch Folsom’s interview here.

Crimp successfully defended his title in this championship, having won last year in a playoff. He averted a playoff this year by making a charge in today’s second round, blistering the course with a 4-under par 68 and overtaking Tom Brandes of Bellevue, Wash. by two shots. Crimp’s round included shooting a 4-under par 32 on the back nine, with birdies on the par-4 17th and 18th holes to pull away from Brandes and the rest of the field. “I knew obviously I had to make a move at some point,” said Crimp, who started the day two shots behind Brandes, who had won this championship in 2012. Crimp also birdied both par-3s on the back nine in today’s round. His two-day total was 74-68 – 142, and was the only player in the Senior Men’s division to finish under par. Watch Crimp’s video here.

Smego put together two solid rounds in windy conditions to start her season with a victory. “I actually played better yesterday (in the tougher weather conditions),” said Smego, who had shot a 3-over 75 which included a double-bogey on the final hole. “Today I was not nearly as consistent but was able to make up for it with my putting.” Smego, the 2013 WSGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year who had won last year’s Washington State Senior Women’s Amateur, is dealing with a torn meniscus in her knee, which may curtail some of her competitive schedule in 2014. Last year she was the medalist in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur qualifier. Watch Smego’s interview here.

Traditionally consisting of the strongest field of the year, this year’s championship consisted of 63 champions from around the state of Washington, competing in four divisions – men’s, women’s, senior men’s and senior women’s. This year’s championship had the strongest field to date of this event, which included seven of this event’s past champions.