Sam Warkentin of Bainbridge Island, Wash. defeated Sean Yi of Auburn, Wash. 4 and 3 in the final match to win the 60th Pacific Northwest Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship, which was held this week at Emerald Valley Golf & Resort in Creswell, Ore. and conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA).
Yi had won the fourth hole of the scheduled 36-hole match to go 1 up, but then Warkentin took control, winning seven of the next 14 holes in charging to a 6 up lead after the morning round. He played the first 18 holes 3-under par.
Warkentin extended his lead to 7 up after 26 holes before Yi battled back by winning three of the next six holes. Warkentin closed out the match on the 33 rd hole when both players made birdie.
“It’s been a great week,” said Warkentin. “To be able to come out on top of a field with this many great players is pretty humbling.”
When asked about jumping out to such a large lead in the final match, Warkentin said, “I wanted to keep my rhythm going, starting the second 18. The weather changed a little bit (in the second 18), the greens got firmer, and I had to kind of start up again. Sean’s a great player, and I knew that whatever lead I had wasn’t really safe. He didn’t have any putts drop early on, but they started to drop in the afternoon towards the end, so he started to put some pressure on me. I’m not too long of a hitter, but my driver is pretty straight, and that’s what you need to do, especially on this course.”
Warkentin is having quite a summer. Last week he won the Washington Junior Golf Association’s state championship and was named the WJGA Player of the Year. Earlier he tied for seventh in the Junior Americas Cup, and just missed qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur, being the first alternate.
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, John Bodenhamer who now is a senior director at the USGA, and Andrew Yun, a past champion of 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.”