A full field of 162 professionals, including most of the top players from the Pacific Northwest section of the PGA, will take aim at $125,000 in prize money this weekend when the 10th annual Rosauers Open Invitational plays out at Indian Canyon Golf Course.
The record purse - $12,000 of which goes to the winner - makes the tournament the richest of the PNWPGA’s six major events. And it has once again lured one of the section’s most competitive fields, according to host professional Gary Lindeblad, a former Rosauers champion.
“This should be as good a field as any you’ll see in the Pacific Northwest,” Lindeblad said Tuesday.
Six former champions, including last year’s winner, Michael Combs of Richland, have entered this year’s event, which kicks off today with a 36-hole pro-am and winds up Sunday.
Also returning are past champions Mike Davis, who won the inaugural event in 1988; Chris Mitchell, a former local favorite and two-time champion now playing out of Tumwater Valley Country Club, Walt Porterfield, Jr., and Rob Gibbons.
Greg Whisman, who had his two-year reign as champion snapped by Combs, did not enter.
Among those Lindeblad considers favorites are Combs; Semiahoo Golf and Country Club’s Jeff Coston, who has been a factor in each of the last three Rosauers, and Jeff Freeman, from Tamarisk Country Club in Palm Springs, Calif. Freeman is one of several non-PNWPGA members given a sponsor’s exemption.
Lindeblad rates Manito Country Club’s Steve Prugh, mini-tour player Mike Rohrholm and Mark Rohde, who teaches at Liberty Lake Golf Course, among the local entrants most capable of winning.
As for his own game, Lindeblad said, “I think it’s starting to come around.
“About the last month, I’ve started to feel fairly good about my golf game,” he added. “My (broken) hand is back to the point where it really doesn’t bother my swing anymore. My biggest problem is just trying to focus on playing golf.”
Lindeblad shot two rounds in the 60s at last weekend’s Lilac Invitational and finished 17th. Mitchell finished in a tie for 14th and could make a run at an unprecedented third Rosauers title.
The Seafirst Pro-Am, which starts today, features a field of 248 amateurs and 62 professionals playing in five-person teams for $27,000 in prizes.
The tournament proper opens its three-day, 54-hole run on Friday, with tee times starting at 7:30 a.m. The field will be cut to the low 65 scores, plus ties, after Saturday’s second round.
Lindeblad said the 6,296-yard Indian Canyon course, which will play to a par of 71, is in “absolutely wonderful” condition.
“The course is as good as I’ve seen it,” Lindeblad said of the tree-lined layout, which features tight fairways and demands accuracy off the tee. “It’s probably even a little more penalizing because of the slash and junk left over (in the trees) from the ice storm.
“So now, more than ever, you want to keep it in the fairway.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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