Drew Warford of Snoqualmie, Wash. won the 63rd Pacific Northwest Junior Boys’ Amateur on the 37th hole, while Brittany Kwon of Bremerton, Wash. won the 62nd Pacific Northwest Junior Girls’ Amateur, her second title in the championship.
Both championships were held concurrently at Sandpines Golf Links in Florence, Ore. and were conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA).
Warford defeated Colt Sherrell of Maple Valley, Wash. with a birdie on the first extra hole, after the two players stood all square after 36 holes.
Warford was 1-down after 34 holes, but Sherrell 3-putted the 35th hole from 50 feet, and Warford squared the match with one hole to play. The two players then exchanged pars on the 36th hole, setting up Warford’s heroics on the first extra hole. When Sherrell caught a bad break against a lip in a bunker next to green of the 37th hole, taking two shots to get out, the match and championship went to Warford.
“I had a lot of support this week,” Warford said. “My grandma and grandpa were here, and I had my brother caddying for me, which was great because I was so tired with so much golf all week. He’s going to get a nice gift today from all of us.”
To get to today’s final match, Warford, who will turn 16 tomorrow, defeated No. 1 seeded Scotty Kennon in yesterday’s semifinal match. That match also went extra holes, with Warford also winning that match with a birdie on the first extra hole.
“I won’t be getting a car tomorrow for my birthday,” Warford said with a laugh. “But this (trophy) is better.”
Warford played in last year’s championship, losing in the first round to eventual winner Gabe Spach. “My goal was to go deeper (in the match-play bracket) this year,” Warford said. “It feels really good to win today.”
Earlier this summer, Warford won the Washington Junior State Championship in the 14-15 age division. He will be a sophomore at Mount Si High School in North Bend, Wash., and plays on the school’s golf team. He learned the game from his father Chad, who played on the University of Washington golf team.
Sherrell had qualified for the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur, but didn’t advance to match play. He will be a senior at Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, Wash.
In the PNGA Junior Girls’, Kwon survived a close final 18-hole match with Kenedee Peters of Ephrata, Wash., 1-up. Kwon won the first hole of the match, and never trailed, although Peters squared the match a couple of times.
“It was really a back and forth battle,” Kwon said afterward. “But she squared it with a birdie on five. We both made a lot of birdies. She played really well.”
Although scores technically are not kept during match play, the scorecard would read that both players shot 4-under 68 on the day, testimony to the quality of play in their match.
Kwon birdied the par-4 16th hole to go back to 1-up. The two players stood on the tee of the par-5 18th hole, each knowing what needed to be done. Kwon laid up short of the green with her second shot, while Peters hit her second shot hole-high to the right, with an easy chance at birdie.
“I really felt Kenedee was going to birdie the hole from where she was,” Kwon said. “So I just knew I had to make birdie.” Kwon chipped up and left herself a six-foot putt for her birdie attempt. When Peters’ eagle try slipped by the hole and then tapped it in for a birdie, it was up to Kwon to try to close out the match. Her six-foot birdie attempt broke slightly to the right and fell into the hole. The two players halved the hole with birdies, giving Kwon the 1-up victory.
Kwon previously won this championship in 2014, and joins some elite company in winning this championship twice. Previous two-time winners include such Northwest legendary names as Judy Hoetmer (1957-58), Mary Budke (1970-71), Sidney Thompson (1974-75), Molly Cooper (1992-93) and Rui Li (2007-08). The only three-time winner is PNGA Hall of Famer Peggy Conley (1961, 1963-64).
“It’s really a great honor to win this championship again,” Kwon said. “I’m super excited about it.”
Kwon, the No. 2 seed this week, finished runner-up in last year’s championship, in which she was also the No. 2 seed. Earlier this spring, Kwon won her second consecutive WIAA 3A High School State Championship.
To reach the final match, Peters had defeated No. 1 seed Cassie Kim of Yakima, Wash. in yesterday’s semifinal match. In 2015, Peters won the WIAA 2A High School State Championship, and was that year’s WJGA Player of the Year. In 2016, she was selected to play in the LPGA Tour’s ANA Inspiration qualifier. She has qualified for three U.S. Girls’ Junior Championships. Peters has verbally committed to attend Washington State University on a golf scholarship.
The rich history of the PNGA Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship includes past champions such as World Golf Hall of Fame member Fred Couples, Web.com Tour players Alex Prugh and Andrew Yun, and John Bodenhamer, the former CEO and executive director of the PNGA who now is a senior director at the USGA.
The storied history of the PNGA Junior Girls’ Amateur includes past champions Jo Ann Washam, Peggy Conley, Joan Edwards-Powell, Mary Budke, and JoAnne Gunderson Carner, all of whom would later be inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame after storied amateur and professional careers. Other past champions include current LPGA Tour players Paige Mackenzie and Jimin Kang.
These championships are two of 15 regional championships conducted annually by the PNGA.
Designed by world-renowned architect Rees Jones, Sandpines Golf Links opened in 1993 and was immediately lauded as the “Best New Course in America” by Golf Digest. Last year, Sandpines hosted the Pacific Northwest Mid-Amateur Championship.
The PNGA was founded on February 4, 1899. It is a 501c3 charitable, international, amateur golf association dedicated to preserving the true spirit of golf by supporting its allied associations, conducting quality championships, and promoting activities beneficial to golfers in the Pacific Northwest. For more than a century, the Association has been a pioneer in developing competitions and services and its mission has grown and evolved. Today, the PNGA remains committed to being a truly regional organization providing benefits and services to its members and member clubs throughout the Northwest.