In what was termed a dream match-up between the medalist and the defending champion, Frank Garber outlasted Kevin Vigna in the Final match to win the 59th Pacific Northwest Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship. Garber won the last hole in the 36-hole match, two-putted for birdie to defeat Vigna, 1-up.
The championship, conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA), was contested on the Valley course at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa in Victoria, B.C.
Garber, of Kirkland, Wash., had easily won medalist honors in the championship’s two rounds of stroke-play qualifying earlier in the week, shooting a combined score of 5-under par, four strokes clear of the second-place finisher, to set himself up as the No. 1 seed entering the match play bracket.
Garber had made it to the Round of 16 in last year’s championship, but this year never really struggled as he made his way through his matches on his march toward the showdown with Vigna. “It was such a good match with Kevin,” said Garber, afterward. “Back and forth the whole day. A lot of fun. We’ve been friends for a couple years, and we had a good time out there. He was the best opponent to have, because his game is so solid.”
Garber’s game was fairly solid as well. “I didn’t hit a lot of drivers this week,” he said. “The course was dry, and was playing short. Basic stuff, just put the tee shot in the fairway and then put the ball on the green.” Watch Garber’s interview here.
The reigning WSGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year, Garber was the 2012 AAA Washington State High School individual champion, and finished seventh in the 2012 Junior America’s Cup.
Vigna, of Coquitlam, B.C., who last year defeated friend and fellow Vancouver (B.C.) Golf Club junior member Lucas Gatto in the championship’s Final match, just missed his chance to make history. Only two other players had won back to back titles – Gregg Patterson in 1982-83, and Larry Lee in 1958-59. Vigna is continuing his strong play this summer, last week having earned individual medalist honors at the 45th Hogan Cup Team Matches, held at Portland’s Riverside Golf and Country Club, in leading Team BC to the title in the team match competition.
This is one of 16 regional championships conducted annually by the PNGA.
The rich history of the PNGA Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship has included past champions World Golf Hall of Fame member Fred Couples, Web.com Tour player Alex Prugh, and Andrew Yun, who earlier this summer won the prestigious Sahalee Players Championship. When asked for his advice to junior golfers, Couples once said, “To any youngster, I would say hang in there. You are playing the toughest sport there is. The highs and lows of golf are so great because it is an individual sport. Let the good times roll with the bad times.”