Area golfers dominate Public Links

POST FALLS – Derek Bayley had made five straight birdies and he thought six was within range as he stood over his approach shot on the 12th hole at The Links. His drive was way left, but he had a decent lie and a good angle to the pin.

Instead, he made a quadruple-bogey 8 – and he had to do some re-thinking.

“I made an 8 but oh well, I’d made five birdies in a row so that means I was 1-under through those six holes,” Bayley said. “Just move on to the next hole and with six holes left obviously you can come back from that. And I sure did.”

Bayley drained a slick 20-foot downhill birdie putt on No. 16 and pulled into a tie when leader Zach Wanderscheid bogeyed No. 18. On the first playoff hole, Bayley made par and Wanderscheid missed a 6-foot par putt, giving the 16-year-old Lakeland High junior the Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur Public Links championship.

Bayley, who shot 1-over 74 Sunday to go with his 71 Saturday, wasn’t the only local champion. Mt. Spokane junior Sierra Bezdicek shot 1-under 72 for the second straight day to beat three-time champion Kate Hildahl by three strokes in the Women’s Amateur. Post Falls’ Bob Christensen repeated as Seniors champion, carding a 75 for a two-day total of even-par 146 and a six-stroke win over Bozeman’s Ron Garland.

Playoffs have been good to Bayley this year. He won the Idaho State 4A championship in a playoff. He also qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur by winning a playoff.

Bayley trailed Wanderscheid and Alex Pounds, both of the University of Idaho golf team, by two shots after his messy 12th hole. Wanderscheid, from Goldendale, Wash., made pars until the par-5 18th, when his third shot trickled over the back of the green and he failed to get up-and-down. Pounds, the former Coeur d’Alene High and Community Colleges of Spokane standout, had bogeys at 13 and 15 and finished tied for third with Sean Packer and Ian Dahl.

“This is probably my last tournament this summer,” said Bayley, starting quarterback on Lakeland’s football team. “Our first game is Friday in Lewiston.”

Bezdicek started the day one shot behind University of Oregon senior Cheyenne Hickle, but she shot 1-under 36 on the front, despite a double bogey, to take a three-stroke lead at the turn.

“I got some separation with birdies at 9 and 10,” said Bezdicek, who won the Washington State 3A title in May in a playoff over older sister Savana, who is preparing for her freshman season at Northern Arizona. “I just wanted to stay steady the rest of the round and not do anything too crazy.”

Bezdicek did just that, shooting even on the back side. Hildahl was 3-under on the back but it wasn’t enough.

“My irons were the main thing, but I generally hit the driver pretty straight and my putting was pretty good,” said Bezdicek, who returns to practice today with Mt. Spokane’s soccer team.

Christensen was tied with Larry Daniels after Saturday’s 71, but Daniels dropped out early on the back nine Sunday with a shoulder injury. By then, Christensen had built a two-shot lead that would grow over the last nine holes.

“Finish with a flair, Bob,” Garland told Christensen before the winner made a short par putt on 18. “You’ve played great.”

Christensen shot 9-under to win last year at The Links at Moses Pointe.

“This was more work,” he said. “I put a new putter in the bag and I wasn’t putting very well. It looked funny when I set up, but I got used to it by the end.”

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