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Anguiano Claims Sahalee Players Championship Title

Mark Anguiano of Whittier, Calif., poured it on early in today’s final round to pull away from the field in winning the 21st Sahalee Players Championship (SPC), held at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash.

Mark Anguiano, winner of the 21st Sahalee Players Championship
Mark Anguiano, winner of the 21st Sahalee Players Championship

Anguiano, 21, had started today’s final round with a one-shot lead over Kurt Kitayama, the senior-to-be at UNLV, but immediately separated himself from the field with birdies on three of the first four holes.

“I didn’t want to play defensively,” said Anguiano. “So I couldn’t have asked for a better start.” After the front nine, he had built himself a five-shot lead.

“This is by far the biggest win of my career,” said Anguiano, who had just completed four years playing for Cal-State Fullerton and had recently won his collegiate invitational by 10 shots. “I played in the U.S. Amateur last year. I didn’t make it into match play for that, but that event really taught me what hard, competitive golf was, and what I needed to do to play it.”

His new-found toughness showed on today’s back nine. Paired with Corey Pereira, the sophomore-to-be at the University of Washington, and Kitayama, Anguiano bogeyed holes 14 and 15, and then put his tee shot into a fairway bunker on 16 and found himself staring at a downhill 25-foot putt to try to save par. Meanwhile, Pereira, who had been firing at flags all day trying to play catch-up but could not get any putts to fall, had a straight 8-foot birdie try. Anguiano’s putt, made even faster in the sun-baked afternoon, inched its way toward the cup and fell for a tournament-saving par. And Pereira’s birdie try slid by.

“Yeah, that was the tournament right there,” admitted Anguiano. “If I miss and Corey makes, suddenly my lead is down to one.” On the next hole, a 198-yard downhill par-3, Anguiano sank a 55-foot birdie putt to put an exclamation point on his win.

Pereira didn’t go down without a fight. He birdied the par-4 10th, and missed short birdie putts on holes 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16, then birdied the par-5 18th to tie Kitayama for second place.

This was Anguiano’s first time playing in the SPC. “The greens here are exactly like the greens at home (at Friendly Hills Country Club in Whittier), so I felt really comfortable around the greens all week.”

Anguiano intends to turn professional after this summer’s U.S. Amateur in August.

Hans Reimers, the Mercer University senior from Lake Oswego, Ore., was awarded the championship’s Rick Acton Award for being the low score for PNGA territory. Reimers, who won the 2013 Oregon Open and finished runner-up in the 2013 Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur, tied for sixth overall.

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Past champions of this prestigious amateur championship include Kyle Stanley, Casey Martin, Peter Uihlein, Nick Taylor, Daniel Summerhays, Ryan Moore, Chris Williams, Arron Oberholser and Jason Gore, among others.

Five of the past 10 SPC champions were winners of the Ben Hogan Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate golfer. More than a dozen SPC participants have gone on to play on the PGA Tour.

This year was the 21st installment of the Sahalee Players Championship. In addition to the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, which was won by Bernhard Langer, Sahalee also tested the world’s best when it hosted the 1998 PGA Championship, won by Vijay Singh, and the 2002 World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational, won by Craig Parry.

The Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) partnered with Sahalee Country Club 14 years ago to create the “Western Swing” with the Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur Championship. The Sahalee Players Championship is the first leg of the swing, with the Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur being played the following week. The two championships combined with a primary goal of providing amateur golfers in the West an opportunity to play two major national amateur championships without having to travel to the East Coast. This year will mark the 113th Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur Championship, and will be held July 6-11 at Palouse Ridge Golf Club in Pullman, Wash. (Watch the preview here.)