Jeff Coston figured his nine-year wait was long enough.
So the 50-year-old teaching pro from Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club in Blaine, went out Sunday – with his son, Kyle, on his bag – and torched Indian Canyon Golf Course with a final-round 63 that added his name to the short list of two-time champions of the Rosauers Open Invitational.
Coston’s brilliant 8-under-par effort, the best recorded during this year’s 54-hole, $135,000 tournament, vaulted him past second-round leader Birk Nelson and Chris Griffin and earned him a winner’s check for $11,000.
“Nine years … that’s a long time,” Coston admitted, looking back on the first Rosauers title he won in 1997. “This really feels good, particularly in the fact that I had to come from behind to win it.”
Coston started the day at 9-under-par 133, two strokes behind Nelson and a stroke in arrears of Griffin – both of whom he was paired with in Sunday’s final threesome. He reeled Nelson in on the front nine and then overcame the two-shot lead Griffin held stepping to the 11th tee to finish at 17-under 196 and three strokes clear of the field.
“Chris really got off to a nice start,” Coston said of Griffin, an assistant pro at Tacoma Golf & Country Club, who eagled the par-5 second and played his first six holes five under par. “But I told Kyle we had to stay patient and see what happens, thinking maybe we can get it together.
“Stuff happens in golf, and on the back nine we really got things going. I started feeling better with the putter and really getting after it.”
Trailing Griffin by two shots at the turn, Coston birdied three of the first five holes on the back, chipping in for an unlikely birdie on the treacherous 438-yard, par-4 14th, and roaring to a two-stoke lead.
“That was huge,” he said of the downhill and wildly breaking chip shot he jarred at 14. “It had a lot of turn, and it was really fast.”
Griffin, after missing two short putts on the previous two holes to let Coston take a two-shot lead, rolled in a greasy 4-footer for par at 14 and birdied the par-3 15th to move back within a stroke of the leader.
But, despite matching Coston’s remarkable up-and-down from behind the 16th green, he finished par-par-par and slipped two more strokes back when the eventual champion birdied the last two holes.
“I had it right where I wanted it after nine holes,” said Griffin, who earned $7,350 for his runner-up finish, “but you’ve got to give all the credit to Jeff. He’s who he is for reason.
“A 63 in the final round is usually going to do quite a lot.”
Coston, who is leading the Hudson Cup and Player of the Year point standings in both the senior and regular divisions of the Pacific Northwest Section PGA, has been a perennial Rosauers contender but had been unable to break through for a second win until Sunday.
“A lot of it has to do with the golf course,” he said in explaining his long run of success on Indian Canyon’s hilly and tree-lined 6,255 layout. “It’s an old-style, shot-making kind of course that makes you think.
“People think you can just overpower it, but you can’t. You have to have a game plan and be patient. I just love the course – and the tournament. I wish all of our tournaments were like this one.”
Nelson, who shot 64 on Saturday to take the outright lead after two rounds, got the lefts going early on Sunday and spent way too much time in the trees brushing pine cones away from his ball.
The 33-year-old head pro at Diamond Woods Golf Course in Monroe, Ore., made a remarkable par-5 from the woods on No. 2, but lost the lead to Griffin’s eagle-3. His game then passed its expiration date – for this tournament, at least – at the par-4 10th, when he hit his approach shot over the green, chunked his first lob shot and made a double-bogey six on his way to final-round 73 that left him tied for ninth at 204.
Nelson’s back-nine collapse made room for first-round leader Lon Hinkle, Tim Morton and Spokane amateur Alex Prugh to slip in and earn a share of third at 13-under 200. Hinkle, a former PGA Tour regular from Eagle Bend Golf Club in Bigfork, Mont., and Morton, the director of golf at Prairie Falls Golf Club in Post Falls, each pocketed $4,882.50 for their effort. Prugh, the low amateur for the second year in a row, picked up $650 in merchandise.
Jack Kelly, an amateur from Seattle, finished alone in sixth place at 202, followed by defending champion Ryan Benzel and local amateur Craig Leslie at 203.
This year’s charity tournament, the richest PGA sectional event in the country, raised $115,000 for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
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