With 5-shot lead gone, Phay birdies final hole for victory
David Phay wanted to see how his nerves would hold up against quality competition in the final round of the 25th annual Rosauers Open Invitational.
He got his wish. And his answer.
Phay’s five-shot lead on the back side evaporated when two-time champion Corey Prugh went on a birdie run, but Phay calmly hit two of his best shots of the day to birdie No. 18 at Indian Canyon for a one-stroke victory and an $11,000 check.
Phay closed with a steady 68 Sunday for a three-round total of 19-under 194. Prugh posted his third consecutive 65 and finished at 18 under. Kyle Kelly (66), Brandon Kearney (68) and Rob Seibly (67) shared third at 199. During the awards ceremony, tournament organizers presented a $135,000 check to the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
“For me this is a big tournament so it’s nice to know that I can do it,” said Phay, a 31-year-old pro at Whidbey Golf and Country Club in Oak Harbor, Wash. “I just tried to keep a level head and make some birdies here and there and make lots of pars.”
Phay rolled in a 25-footer for birdie on No. 9 to make the turn at 18-under. He stayed there with eight straight pars, including up-and-downs on both par 3s and a 4-foot par putt on No. 14.
Prugh, an assistant at Manito, made a late charge with birdies at 12, 14, 15, 17 and 18. He had eagle tries from 15 to 18 feet on the par-4 17th and par-5 18th, but settled for two-putt birdies.
“It was a little tough early, I just didn’t get anything to go in the hole,” Prugh said. “I just stayed calm and I know birdies will happen if you keep hitting shots.”
After Phay narrowly missed a 5-foot birdie putt on 17, he figured that Prugh, playing one group ahead, would make birdie on 18 for a share of the lead at 18-under. Phay, who hits a gentle fade, knew he had to hit driver and hug the left side of the right-to-left sloping fairway.
He teed up on the far right side of the box and split the fairway with a 310-yard drive. A smooth 9-iron from 140 yards left him 10 feet below the cup for an easy two-putt birdie.
“That’s the best tee shot I’ve had off 18 all week,” said Phay, who played at Skagit Valley Community College. “And the second shot, it was only a 9-iron but it was nerve-wracking.”
Ryan Benzel was within two shots early on the front side, but Phay executed a great flop shot to save par on No. 4, drained a 6-footer for par on No. 5 and an 8-footer for birdie on No. 6 to extend his lead to four.
“It wasn’t really my day,” said Benzel, the former Idaho Vandal who shot a 71. “Dave didn’t get himself into much trouble and he made a couple of big putts.”
Phay might spend some of his earnings on a car. “My wife has our car,” he said. “My parents loaned me theirs for the drive here.”
Seibly, a Gonzaga Prep grad who plays on Seattle University’s golf team, was the low amateur, edging out 17-year-old Ryan Porch, who will be a senior at Glacier High in Kalispell, Mont. Porch, who had never played Indian Canyon prior to the tournament, shot 64 and 66 before closing with a 70 to finish in a four-way tie for sixth with Benzel, three-time champ Jeff Coston (67) and Chris Griffin (64).