Gatto Victorious at 58th PNGA Junior Boys’ Amateur
Port Ludlow, Wash. (August 10, 2012) – After an impressive week of championship caliber golf, No. 20 seed Kevin Vigna of Coquitlam, B.C. outlasted No. 15 seed Lucas Gatto of Burnaby, B.C., 4&2 to win the 58th Pacific Northwest Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship, conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA).
Playing against his friend and fellow-Vancouver Golf Club member, Gatto struck first in the championship match and, after a birdie on the par-4 second hole, found himself 2-up. The lead slipped back to 1-up through six holes as the pair navigated the front nine, the tension building along the way. A par on the par-3 eighth hole by Gatto extended the lead back to 2-up before Vigna went on a run, winning the ninth and 10th holes to pull all square. The match remained all square until the par-5 13th hole, when Vigna took his first lead of the day.
“I kind of panicked after getting down so quickly in the match,” said Vigna. “I had to remind myself that this is a 36-hole match, and there’s a lot of golf still to play.” Vigna, who competed last week at the Canadian Junior Boys Championship in Nova Scotia, said he likes match play. “I seem to play well (in match play),” he said. “It calms me down because I know that one bad hole is not going to ruin the whole day, like it would in stroke play.” (Watch Vigna’s full interview here.)
After the first 18 holes, Vigna held a slight 1-up edge over Gatto and extended the lead to 2-up with a birdie on the 24th hole. Gatto carded a birdie two holes later on the 26th hole to cut into Vigna’s lead. But Vigna began to pull away on the final nine holes, starting with a birdie on the 28th hole that pushed the lead to 2-up and provided a little bit of breathing room. The lead would swell to 3-up after Vigna made another birdie, this time on the 31st hole, and the deficit was simply too much to overcome for Gatto, as Vigna finished the match on the 34th hole for a 4&2 victory.
“My goal was just to make the championship flight and just play well from then on,” he said. “It feels really good to go the whole way.” The rich history of the PNGA Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship includes past champions Fred Couples, Alex Prugh, and Andrew Yun. When asked how it feels to have his name on the same trophy as Couples, Vigna got a big smile on his face. “It feels pretty good. I was looking at some of the names on the trophy, and it’s nice to know my name is there now also.”
Vigna and Gatto played high school golf together at St. Thomas More High School in Burnaby, B.C. and played many friendly matches together on their home course, Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam, B.C. “It was fun the way this worked out,” said Gatto. “This is the first time I played in this championship, and I entered it when I found out Kevin was playing in it.” Gatto admitted that he ran out of gas on the final 18 holes of today’s match. “I got a little tired, no question,” he said. “It’s a long week of golf.” When asked about his game today, he said, “My putting. It was all about the putting. I made one putt today, but everything was a struggle. I hit the ball well, and my game plan did not change today from what I had been doing all week long.” Gatto will be attending Simon Fraser University in B.C. in the fall on a golf scholarship.
The PNGA championship trailer now moves to Sunland Golf and Country Club, site of the 57th Pacific Northwest Junior Girls’ Amateur Championship, to be held on August 13-16. Last year, Morgan Thompson of Tualatin, Ore. capped an impressive week at Arrowhead Golf Club in Molalla, Ore. with a 2&1 victory over Kristin Strankman of Richland, Wash. to secure the title.
To be eligible for the Pacific Northwest Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship, contestants must not have reached their 18th birthday by the final day of the competition. The championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play qualifying to determine flights for the match play portion of the championship. The lowest 32 scorers from the qualifying round advanced to the Championship Flight, with each of the remaining flights being comprised of eight contestants. All matches, except for the Championship Match in the Championship Flight which is contested over 36 holes, were contested over 18 holes in a single elimination format.