The 7th Washington State Golf Association Champion of Champions concluded play today at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash. This year’s field consisted of 144 champions from around the state of Washington and Northern Idaho, competing in four divisions. It was the largest and strongest field in the history of the championship.
Jake Koppenberg of Bellingham, Wash. matched the low round of the week, a 5-under par 67, in claiming the Men’s title. Koppenberg had finished in fourth place last year, but came from behind in today’s second round with birdies on three of the final four holes to pull away from second-place finisher Sam Warkentin of Bainbridge Island. During his collegiate career at Western Washington University, Koppenberg had set scoring records in 2008 and 2009 for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Last year, he qualified for the U.S. Amateur. He continues to volunteer as a golf coach at WWU.
“I tried not to make any big numbers,” Koppenberg said. “I made a double-bogey on the first day, but got over it pretty quick. Just tried to keep it as simple as possible, make it a low-stress event. I didn’t follow any of the other scoring today, but I had a number in my head that I thought I needed to
shoot.” That number was 6-under, but he ended at 7-under for good measure.
Koppenberg will compete next week for Team WSGA in the PNGA Cup at Richmond (B.C.) Country Club. He also plans to compete in the Washington State Men’s Amateur at Tacoma Country & Golf Club in August.
Warkentin shot a final round 4-under par 68. Last year he won the Washington Junior Golf Association State Championship, and was named the 2015 WSGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year.
Brandes, who has been named the WSGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year the past six years, shot rounds of 69-69, playing bogey-free golf on both days to win the Senior Men’s title. “I was paired with Rob Bringardner today,” Brandes said, “and he made nine pars on the front side, so I wasn’t exactly pulling away.” But Brandes birdied the par-5 10th and Bringardner double-bogeyed the short par-4 11th and that started to put some separation between Brandes and the field.
Brandes also won this title in 2012. Pete Higgins of Mercer Island, who won last year and was attempting to defend his title, tied for second, four shots back of Brandes.
In the Women’s division, Sarah Lawrence of Duvall, Wash. blistered the field with 11 birdies over two rounds, including a 5-under par 67 in today’s final round, matching the low round of the week. Lawrence has competed in the IMG Academy Junior World Championships, as well as American Junior Golf Association events.
Leslie Folsom of Tukwila, Wash. was attempting to make it a three-peat, having won the title in 2014 and 2015. She started today just three shots back of Lawrence, but stumbled on the front nine, eventually finishing in third place.
Smego outlasted Ginny Burkey of Eugene, Ore. in a three-hole playoff for the Senior Women’s title. This is the second title in this championship for Smego, having also won in 2014.
“I was actually glad just to be able to finish,” Smego said. “I’d been having some back issues since yesterday, and I didn’t hit too many great shots today but hit just enough good shots to be able to make it into the playoff with my good friend Ginny.”
Smego and Burkey have known each other since college and have teamed together in the past to win multiple state and regional championships, including last year’s WSGA Women’s Best-Ball and PNGA Women’s Senior Team titles.
Alison Murdoch of Victoria, B.C., who won the Women’s title in 2010, finished in third place, four shots out of the playoff.
Click here for final scores.