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Plaster Prevails to Win PNGA Junior Boys’ Title; Seo Cruises to Victory in Junior Girls’

Nate Plaster outlasted Tommy Kimmel (both of Spokane, Wash.) 2-up to win the 65th Pacific Northwest Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship; while Gihoe Seo of Mercer Island, Wash. easily won her final match against Jessica Zelasko of Gig Harbor, Wash. 13&12, to win the 64th Pacific Northwest Junior Girls’ Amateur.

Nate Plaster (left) and Gihoe Seo
Nate Plaster (left) and Gihoe Seo

Championship Links

The final matches for both championships were each scheduled for 36 holes.

The two championships were held concurrently this week at Port Ludlow (Wash.) Golf Club, and were conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA). Both championships are considered as counting events for the World Amateur Golf Ranking, as well as AJGA Performance Based Entry.

Nate Plaster
Nate Plaster

In a tight match for the Junior Boys’ title, Kimmel, the No. 4 seed, and Plaster, the No. 10 seed, went toe-to-toe for the majority of their match, with neither being able to create more than a one-hole separation for the morning round. It wasn’t until the 25th hole that Plaster broke through by winning three consecutive holes – holes 25, 26, 27 – to go from being All Square to 3-up with just nine holes to play.

But Kimmel wouldn’t let go, winning holes 28 and 29, and then squaring the match on the 31st hole, and again on the 33rd hole after Plaster had won the 32nd.

Plaster won the 34th hole with a birdie to go 1-up. On the 36th hole, Kimmel pulled his tee shot left into the trees, then pulled his second shot further left into the woods, and conceded the hole, and the match, to Plaster.

Kimmel and Plaster are teammates on the Gonzaga Prep boys’ golf team. Their fathers were roommates at the University of Idaho, and today’s two finalists have been friends since they were born.

“Yeah, we’ve known each other forever,” Plaster said. “We play golf together every day. I was feeling pretty good after winning the three holes in a row (in the afternoon round), but it sure turned fast after that.”

Plaster’s older brother Jack had played in the Junior Boys’ a few years ago, “And I thought it was just the coolest tournament ever, being match play,” Nate said. “I’ve always known about this event. So I was thinking about that, coming here this week. This win means a lot.”

Click here to watch Plaster’s post-match interview.

In the Junior Girls’ final match, Seo won the third hole to go 1-up, and never looked back. She was 5-up after nine holes, 10-up after the morning round, won the first three holes of the afternoon round, and closed out the match with a par on the 24th hole.

Gihoe Seo
Gihoe Seo

“I’m really happy to win,” Seo said afterward. “But I just really didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t play well in the second round of qualifying, and then all my matches were really close.” In yesterday’s quarterfinal, Seo, the No. 12 seed, defeated Darby Rickel 1-up, and in the afternoon’s semifinal match she outlasted Emily Cadwell in 19 holes.

“My hands were shaking so much on the last putt on the 19th hole in yesterday’s semifinal match,” Seo said with a laugh.

“Jessica was playing real well today (in the final match),” Seo said. “But I was outdriving her by 40 and 50 yards, and that really gave me an advantage.” Seo played in last year’s championship, but other than that did not have much match-play experience going into this week’s championship.

Seo will be a junior at Mercer Island High School, where she stars on the girls’ golf team.

Click here to watch Seo’s post-match interview.

The rich history of the PNGA Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship includes past champions such as World Golf Hall of Fame member Fred Couples, Korn Ferry 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.

To stay connected on social media, follow @PNGALIVE on Twitter and use the hashtag #PNGAJrAm.

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.