Manito assistant pro sets tournament record
Chris Griffin would have liked to have rolled in four or five of the highly makeable birdie putts he missed during the first few holes of Sunday’s final round of the $135,000 Rosauers Open golf tournament – not just for himself, but for the spectators at Indian Canyon Golf Course, as well.
“It might have made things a whole lot more interesting and a whole lot more fun for everyone,” said Griffin, a former assistant professional at Tacoma Golf & Country Club, who has taken a leave of absence to work on his golf game.
But Griffin did miss them – three from inside of 8 feet on the first four holes – and blew a chance to ratchet up the pressure on second-round leader Corey Prugh, who shook off some early struggles of his own to shoot a 5-under par final-round 66 that led to a cushy four-stroke victory and a tournament-record 54-hole total of 21-under 192.
Brian Nosler, from the Vanco Driving Range in Vancouver, Wash., finished second at 196 – thanks to a tournament-record round of 62 on Sunday – followed by Griffin at 197 and Wenatchee’s low amateur Nick Ellis, a junior-to-be at Washington State University, at 198.
Nosler’s remarkable 62 included a front-nine 30 and back-to-back bogeys on the back nine.
The 28 year-old Prugh, after putting together consecutive rounds of 63 to open the Pacific Northwest PGA’s richest sectional event and starting the day with a five-stroke lead, shook off some front-nine nerves and a mid-round charge by Griffin to tame the 6,255-yard Indian Canyon layout and break the previous tournament record of 193 that was shared by Scott Johnson (2004) and Ryan Benzel (2005).
The win was worth $11,000 to the former University of Washington standout and assistant pro at Manito Golf & Country Club, who made the turn at even-par 35 before scorching the back nine with a 5-under 31 that included birdies at the 10th, 11th, 13th, 16th and 18th holes.
Sorting out the key shot in Prugh’s successful effort to hold off Griffin, who closed to within two strokes of the lead with a birdie on the par-5 12th, was difficult. He made a nice 8-foot putt to match Griffin’s birdie on No. 11, and then answer Griffin’s birdie on 12 by stuffing his tee shot on the 178-yard, par-3 13th to within 2 ½ feet of the pin and tapping in for a two.
Prugh credited his caddie, Robby McKee, with his splendid tee shot on 13.
“I was kind of between clubs,” he explained, “but my caddie helped me decide by visualizing the tee shot. He told me, ‘Just cut a nice 7-iron in there,’ and I did.”
Prugh also took advantage of a nice break on the short, uphill par-4 17th, where he hooked his tee shot left into a tree but ended up with a decent lie – on grass – left of the cart path. He wisely played his treacherous pitch shot to the severely sloped green over a trap and past the pin about 20 feet, two-putting for par from there.
“Having a four-stroke lead and knowing I didn’t have to make birdie helped,” Prugh said of his cautious approach.
Still, Prugh insisted his final round turned on a putt that didn’t drop.
“Actually, the weird crucial shot was the par putt on five that didn’t go in,” he said of the 14-footer that failed to rescue him from a poor chip from just short of the green. “It was the first putt I hit all day that I hit where I wanted to.
“Earlier, I could have made some putts, but I didn’t hit them where I wanted. But once I did, it seemed to calm me down, and calm is a good thing.”
Prugh said he had only a vague idea of the importance of the ticklish 6-foot birdie putt he made on the 18th green to post the lowest 54-hole score in the 27-year history of the Rosauers Open.
“To be honest, I think I remember Benzel maybe getting to 20 (under par),” he admitted. “But I really cared a lot more about winning than I did about the record.”
This year’s Rosauers Open raised $125,000 for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
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