Kelly and Kirkebo win Washington State Men’s Best-Ball; McNelis and Smith rally to take Senior Men’s Best-Ball title
Ryan Kelly of Gig Harbor and Tres Kirkebo of Lakewood, Wash. teamed up to win the 63rd Washington State Men’s Best-Ball; while Jim McNelis and Karl Smith, both of Gig Harbor, rallied in today’s final round to win the 26th Washington State Senior Men’s Best-Ball.
The two championships were held concurrently at Canterwood Golf and Country Club in Gig Harbor, Wash., and conducted by the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA).
In the Men’s Best-Ball, Kelly and Kirkebo teamed for rounds of 69-66 over the two days, taking the title by a single shot over Ben Garrett of Issaquah and Erik Olson of Seattle, and Reid Hatley of Hayden Lake, Idaho and Jake Koppenberg of Bellingham. This is the first title in this championship for Kelly and Kirkebo. Garrett and Olson had won this championship in 2016.
Kelly and Kirkebo had started today’s round two shots behind the opening-round leaders Garrett and Olson, and Tom Brandes and Erik Hanson, but their final round of 6-under-par 66 was the low round of the championship and enough to claim the title.
“The course was in good shape, and RK made some putts,” Kirkebo said. “Today we had some breaks go our way, and was able to get it to 9-under.”
“We had a good front nine, so we knew we were in it,” said Kelly, explaining how they felt after making the turn today at 4-under for the day. “We made a couple birdies late (on 16 and 17), but we didn’t know if it was going to be enough. We found out it was, for a one-shot victory.”
In the Senior Men’s Best-Ball, McNelis and Smith, playing on their home course of Canterwood, shot rounds of 68-67, including the low round of the day in today’s final round, to rally and take the title by a single shot over three other teams, Bill Badger and Rich Evenson, Chris DeGrazia and Mike Hickok, and Craig Larson and Keith Crimp. McNelis and Smith had started today’s round two shots behind Larson and Crimp.
“Jimmy played amazing,” Smith said. “It was fun to watch and I just tried to stay out of his way. We had a little advantage, playing here at Canterwood. We understand the course, maybe that may have been the difference, but we’re still thrilled to be in the winner’s circle.”
“It’s always fun to play this on your home track,” McNelis said. “Both of us have been members at Canterwood for over 30 years, and we’ve played a lot of golf together. We’re comfortable with each others’ game. When I needed him this week, he was there to hold me up as well. We had a great week.”
The key putt for them was on the final hole. “Jimmy had to make a sliding 15-footer on the last hole, and that turned out to be the difference maker,” Smith said. It was Smith’s 20-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole that caught the leaders.
The Washington State Men’s Best-Ball Championship was previously known as the Inglewood Best-Ball from 1956 until 1993, when in 1994 the WSGA began to administer the event and introduced the Senior Men’s Best-Ball.
The Men’s and Senior Men’s Best-Ball are two of 15 championships conducted annually by the WSGA.
Founded in 1922, the WSGA 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, the WSGA works to continually expand the game of golf to people of all backgrounds.
The WSGA also serves as a statewide representative of the United States Golf Association (USGA) and works closely with a number of allied associations within the golf industry for the betterment of the game.