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Prugh conquered Qualchan with 61

Sat., April 14, 2012

Corey Prugh has had a goal of shooting 10-under-par for years. He’s been 9 under several times.

“But it just sounds cooler to be 10 under,” the assistant pro at Manito said.

So it was perfectly understandable when nerves descended on Prugh on the back nine of Monday’s pro-am at The Creek at Qualchan.

He was 7 under approaching the par-5 16th. An eagle moved him to 9 under and he drained a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 17.

Prugh reached the par-5 18th in two and negotiated a tricky downhill first putt for a tap-in birdie. A short time later Prugh wrote “33” in the Out box, “28” – 28! – in the In box and “61” in the Total box on the far right side of his scorecard.

Very cool.

“I knew 16 through 18 were good scoring opportunities,” said Prugh, the former Ferris High and University of Washington standout who had 11 “3s” on his scorecard. “I tried to do my best with each shot, use my full effort and give myself the best opportunity. A couple of putts rolled in on 16 and 17 and that got me to 10 under. I was able to almost relax and just play 18.”

The 11-under 61 was Prugh’s best competitive round and also set a Qualchan course record from the white tees. The previous best was 63 by Ryan Camp, Prugh’s former teammate at Ferris. Qualchan pro Mark Gardner said the course setup was essentially a combination of the white and blue tee boxes and probably measured closer to 6,300 yards than the listed yardage of 6,180 from the whites.

“I’ve got his card right here, because we’re probably going to put it in glass and hang it up,” Gardner said. “He starts out the back nine 3-3-3-3-2, and those first few holes are a little difficult. Ten through 12 are real crucial holes and he zipped right through those.”

Prugh finished with a flurry, playing the last three holes in 4 under. If a few well-struck putts on the front nine had found the hole instead of the lip of the cup, Prugh would have been toying with one of golf’s magical numbers – breaking 60.

“He mentioned to me that he played pretty clean on the front and birdied No. 6 to go 3 under,” said Prugh’s father, Steve, the head pro at Manito. “One of his playing partners said Corey lipped out birdie putts at 7, 8 and 9. So now you can start adding up what the number could have been.”

Lousy spring weather made it tough on golfers to get out in March, but Corey and Steve were able to play nine holes together recently.

“He felt so confident in his wedges and he was hitting it so solid and straight,” Steve said. “My comment to myself was, ‘If he starts rolling in putts like he usually does, something good could happen.’ ”

Everything was working for Prugh last Monday, including the sunny, warm conditions. He half-joked about it being the first time this year he could play without a parka, beanie and rain jacket. Prugh used his driver on six holes. He positioned his tee shots smartly, leaving wedges into the green.

“I didn’t miss any greens in regulation; I was in the right spot on most fairways,” he said. “I just had a lot of opportunities and I was able to let my brain free up and hit putts. The more years I’m in golf, I tend not to live or die on any positive feelings, just see what the day brings and do the best with each day.”

Prugh played on a few mini-tours after college and will make another run at the PGA Tour Qualifying School later this year.

“I’ve chosen not to chase mini-tours, living out of a suitcase and not making any money,” he said. “I’ve told many people that as long as I continue to feel like I’m getting better, I’m going to try to make the next level.”

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