Post Falls, Idaho (August 28, 2012) – Champions were crowned Sunday amid clear, blue skies and perfect playing conditions at the 29th Pacific Northwest Men’s and 15th Women’s and Senior Men’s Amateur Public Links Championships, conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) at The Links Golf Club in Post Falls, Idaho. The galleries were treated to fantastic golf, as 94 players battled for a chance to hoist their respective championship trophy.
The Men’s Championship was wide open through much of the final round, and several players held at least a share of the lead during the front nine. First round leader Derek Bayley of Rathdrum, Idaho started slowly and lost his lead after a double-bogey on the fourth hole dropped him to even-par for the championship. “I thought I hit a good tee shot but it flew over the green and got in trouble,” he said about the early mistake. Zach Wanderscheid of Goldendale, Wash. took the lead at that point, but Bayley recovered with back-to-back-to-back birdies on 7, 8, and 9 to make the turn at 2-under-par, one stroke ahead of Wanderscheid and Alex Pounds of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
As the final group made the turn, seven players were within four shots of the lead and three more were within six shots of the lead. Sean Packer of Seattle, Wash. made the first move on the back nine when he birdied holes 10 and 11 to pull within two strokes of Bayley at even-par. Bayley’s torrid stretch continued, with birdies on 10 and 11, but his momentum came to a screeching halt on the 12th hole when he made a quadruple bogey to fall back to even-par, two strokes behind Wanderscheid at the time. “I caught fire with those birdies, but the 12th hole was bad,” Bayley said. “I just tried to laugh it off and my caddie was there to help me with my emotions.”
Once again, Bayley dug deep, playing the final six holes at 1-under-par to finish in a tie with Wanderscheid at 1-under-par 145 for the championship. “I just fought back,” he said about the up-and-down round. “There were still six more holes after that (quadruple bogey) to make it up. It was just a really intense round of golf.”
Bayley and Wanderscheid headed to the first hole for a sudden death playoff. Wanderscheid’s tee shot found the right rough, while Bayley hit the fairway and stuck a wedge to 15 feet. A two-putt by Bayley forced Wanderscheid to make a 7 foot par putt to extend the playoff, but he failed to convert, giving Bayley the victory. “It’s a big win,” said Bayley. “It was really intense, really up and down, and it always comes down to the last hole. But it was a good day.” (Watch Bayley’s post-victory interview here).
Bayley, a three-sport athlete at Lakeland High School, will now transition into his high school football season before returning to golf next spring. Wanderscheid took home solo second place after falling short in the playoff, while three players, Ian Dahl of Longview, Wash., Pounds and Packer finished one stroke back at even-par 146 for the championship. Packer’s 2-under-par 71 was the low round of the day.
In the Senior Men’s Championship, Bob Christensen of Post Falls, Idaho successfully defended his title with a final round, 2-over-par 75 to finish the championship at even-par 146, six strokes ahead of the nearest competitor. Christensen entered the final round in a tie for first place with Larry Daniels of Seattle, Wash., but Daniels was forced to withdraw with a shoulder injury, clearing the way for Christensen to cruise to victory.
Ron Garland of Bozeman, Mont. finished alone in second place with a two-day total of 6-over-par 152. Garland closed to within three strokes of Christensen with four holes to play but could not overcome the deficit and ultimately posted a final round 4-over-par 77. Rich Evenson of Mercer Island, Wash. also fired a 4-over-par 77 to finish in third place.
In the Women’s Championship, Sierra Bezdicek of Colbert, Wash. erased a one-stroke deficit entering the final round and pulled away from the field with a final round, 1-under-par 72 to earn a 3-stroke victory over defending champion Kate Hildahl of Tualatin, Ore. Bezdicek, who will be a junior at Mount Spokane High School, started strong, birdieing the par-4 third hole and the par-4 fifth hole to move to 3-under-par. “I made the putts when I needed to,” she said about her round. “That helped out a lot.”
A costly double-bogey on the seventh hole dropped her back, but she recovered nicely, birdieing the ninth and 11th holes to extend her lead to three strokes over first round leader, Cheyenne Hickle of Eugene, Ore. “I just wanted to play a solid round and not do anything crazy,” she said. “It was definitely fun because I know Cheyenne (Hickle) and Cherokee (Kim) and we’ve always played together. It was fun having the competition.”
Bezdicek cruised through the final five holes despite a bogey on the 14th hole and secured the victory. She was the only player in the women’s amateur field to break par for the championship, finishing at 2-under-par 144. “It definitely felt good to play well again, hit it in the fairway, and hit the putts I needed to,” she said, when asked how it felt to win. (Watch Bezdicek’s interview here).
Hildahl, the defending champion and three-time winner, put together a solid 1-under-par 72 on Sunday as well, but could not make up enough ground on Bezdicek and ultimately finished alone in second place with a two-day total of 1-over-par 147, three strokes back of the lead.
Brittany Tallman of Issaquah, Wash. grabbed solo third place with a final round of 2-over-par 75 to finish four strokes off the lead at 2-over-par 148 for the championship. Hickle, the first round leader, settled for fourth place after a final round 5-over-par 78.
The Amateur Public Links Championships are open to amateur and senior amateur golfers who are members in good standing of a PNGA member public golf course only, including semi-private and military courses, who have been bona fide public course players since January 1, 2012, and meet the handicap requirements.
The PNGA Championship caravan will head straight to Pendleton, Ore. and Wildhorse Resort and Casino, site of the 2012 Pacific Northwest Men’s Master-40 Amateur Championship, to be held August 27-31.