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Tom Brandes three-peats at PNGA Senior Men’s Amateur; Carey Watson wins Super Senior Amateur

Tom Brandes of Bellevue, Wash. came from behind in the final round to win the 54th Pacific Northwest Senior Men’s Amateur Championship; while Carey Watson of Bend, Ore. won the 9th Pacific Northwest Super Senior Men’s Amateur Championship.

L to R: Tom Brandes and Carey Watson

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For Brandes, it was his third consecutive title, winning in 2016 and 2017; and fifth overall, having also won in 2012 and 2013.

Brandes played in the final group in today’s final round, beginning the day in third place, four shots back of Norm Bradley of Kelowna, B.C. and one shot behind Tom Lewis of Bonney Lake, Wash. Bradley had held the top spot after each of the first two rounds.

After the front fine, Brandes had caught Bradley, and took the lead for good when Bradley bogeyed the par-5 10th. Brandes would hit 17 greens in regulation and fire 2-under 69 on the par-71 layout, the low round of the championship, while Bradley stumbled to a 75 and Lewis shot 79.

“I had Norm on my radar,” Brandes said, when asked if he knew where he stood in the standings during today’s round. “I turned in 2-under and he turned in 2-over, so I knew we were tied. I just tried to stay focused, you know, play like you’re behind instead of playing like you’re ahead.”

Bradley finished tied for second with Jim McNelis of Gig Harbor, Wash., two shots back of Brandes.

Brandes got better with each day of the championship, opening with a 75, then a 72 in the second round, followed by his stellar 69. “I’d never played here before,” he said. “So I was learning more about the course every round. I just got a little more comfortable each day with the course. A shout-out to Sunriver, because the greens on this course are excellent, and the course was in great shape.”

In the Super Senior Amateur, Watson had shot a 2-under 69 in yesterday’s second round to vault up the leaderboard, and began today’s final round tied for the lead with Gary Vanier of Driggs, Idaho. After today’s front nine, Watson had built a 2-stroke lead over Vanier, and when Vanier double-bogeyed the par-4 15th, Watson took it to the house.

“The great thing for me about today is that I grew up in Florida,” Watson said, of the windy conditions. “So the wind blowing today was perfect for me. I loved it.”

Of the final round, Watson said, “I was a couple shots up at the turn, and then I made eight pars on the back side and that was pretty much it.”

Watson has played in numerous other local, regional and PNGA championships, but this is the first title for him. “I’ve had some top-5 finishes, but this is the first time I’ve been able to break through.”

Being from nearby Bend and having played Sunriver numerous times, Watson said his local knowledge was a big leg up for him. “Also, seeing other players coming in from other states and Canada, it was a little extra motivation for me to play well, to defend my turf so to speak.”

Vanier finished tied for second with Tom Phillips of Scottsdale, Ariz., three shots back of Watson. Phillips had finished second last year in the Senior Men’s Amateur, losing in a playoff to Brandes.

Vanier, who lives part-time in California, has won nine senior titles in Northern California.

The Super Senior Championship field features defending champion John Gallacher of Burnaby, B.C.; and past champions Tom Kubisa (2016) of Bremerton, Wash.; Gay Davis (2012) of Portland; and Tom Phillips of Scottsdale, Ariz., who won the Senior Men’s title in 2008 and is now competing in the Super Senior championship. Also in the field is Scott Masingill of Payette, Idaho, who was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame in 2003.

The Pacific Northwest Senior and Super Senior Men’s Amateur championships are two of 15 major, regional, amateur championships for men, women, juniors, and seniors conducted annually by the PNGA throughout the Northwest.

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.