Sean Kato of Redmond, Wash. shot rounds of 65-69-73 to win the 94th Washington Men’s Amateur Championship, held this week at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
Kato had been alone at the top of the leaderboard at a combined 10-under par after each of the first two rounds, and began today’s final round with a five-stroke lead over his nearest competitor, Brian Humphreys of Vancouver, Wash.
Paired with Humphreys in the today’s final group, Kato immediately double-bogeyed the first hole, and by the end of the front nine Humphreys had pulled within two shots.
After the 15th hole, it was a three-way tie for the lead between Kato, Humphreys and Zachary Stocker, who was two groups ahead of the final group and busy lighting up the scoreboard.
But Stocker would par in, Humphreys would birdie the 18th, and Kato would birdie 16 and, after powering his second shot on the par-5 18th to 12-feet, he calmly two-putted for birdie and the one-shot victory over Humphreys.
After being asked how it felt to be the champion, Kato said, “That sounds awesome to hear that. Today was a really hard day. Brian Humphreys played unbelievable, and I just gutted my butt off the last four holes and just found a way to hit some shots down the stretch. It was really cool to be there. It has been a while since I’ve been in that spot, and to feel the nerves was really cool.”
When asked how it felt to now have his name on the same trophy as players such as Fred Couples, Joel Dahmen, Reid Hatley and others, Kato said, “It feels awesome. Honestly it hasn’t sunk in yet. It is such an honor to be on that trophy with all those names, and something I’ll cherish forever.”
Kato won the 2017 Washington State Junior Championship, and led his Redmond High School squad to the 2017 4A State Championship. He was selected for Team Washington in the Junior Americas Cup for three years, leading the team to the title in 2016. Last year he was a representative for team Washington in the Morse Cup competition at the Pacific Coast Amateur.
Humphreys is a rising senior on the Boise State University men’s golf team.
Making a hard charge was 20-year-old Zachary Stocker of Spokane, Wash. Stocker began the day eight shots back of Kato, and double-bogeyed his first hole of the day to make it a full 10 shots back, and Kato hadn’t teed off yet. But Stocker went 7-under for the remainder of his round and stood on the tee of the getable par-5 18th with a chance to grab a share of the lead. But he pushed his tee shot right into the fescue, nullifying his chance to go for the green in two, and had to settle for a par. He finished alone in third place, two shots back of Kato. Stocker graduated from Central Valley High School in Spokane, and is a rising junior on the Gonzaga University men’s golf team.
Nathan Cogswell of Kent, Wash. and a rising junior on the Seattle University men’s golf team, finished fourth, three shots back of Kato.
The state’s premier men’s amateur championship, which is a counting event toward the World Amateur Golf Ranking, traditionally attracts the region’s finest players.
Past champions of the Washington 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.
Opened in 2007 and designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Architects, Chambers Bay has already been the site of many state, regional and national championships, the most high-profile being the 2010 U.S. Amateur and 2015 U.S. Open. It also has hosted the 2017 Pacific Coast Amateur and numerous collegiate tournaments. This is the second time the municipal facility has hosted the Washington Men’s Amateur, with it previously being held there in 2013.
Founded in 1922, the WA Golf is a 501c4 non-profit, amateur golf association governed by men and women volunteers. Serving nearly 70,000 individual members at more than 550 member golf clubs and 270 golf courses throughout the state of Washington and Northern Idaho, WA Golf works to continually expand the game of golf to people of all backgrounds.
WA Golf also serves as a statewide representative of the United States Golf Association and works closely with a number of allied associations within the golf industry for the betterment of the game.