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Robydek passes Sisich on 18th to win Lilac

Tony Robydek of Lakewood, Wash., studies a tricky shot with his ball next to a tree at the Lilac Invitational. He won by two strokes. (Jesse Tinsley)
Tony Robydek of Lakewood, Wash., studies a tricky shot with his ball next to a tree at the Lilac Invitational. He won by two strokes. (Jesse Tinsley)

The region’s only 72-hole tournament was decided on the 72nd hole.

Peter Sisich had played steady golf as he stood on the 18th tee at The Fairways with a one-stroke lead. He tugged his drive left and got a nasty bounce farther left beyond the O.B. stakes.

He ended up making triple bogey, opening the door for Tony Robydek, who overcame his own challenges on the finishing hole to secure a two-shot victory Sunday in the 51st Lilac City Invitational.

Robydek closed with a 70 for a four-round total of 17-under 271. He earned the Joe Durgan Memorial Trophy and $5,000 for first place. Sisich, a Cheney High product who played at Eastern Washington University, shot 72 and finished at 273. He made $2,800.

Jason Humphrey, who caddies at Bandon (Oregon) Dunes Golf Resort, shot a final-round 73 to place third for the third straight year. Spokane’s Corey Prugh (71) finished at 11-under 277 and tied for fifth.

Robydek, 44, estimated that he’s played in the Lilac 10 times, the first 17 years ago. He’s had a couple of second- and third-place finishes.

“To stand on 18 and watch Peter hit it out of bounds with iron, I didn’t see that coming,” said Robydek, who teaches at Pro Golf Discount in Tacoma. “I’m very happy to win, I just feel bad for Peter because he played so good.”

Sisich, who finished his collegiate career at Cal State Fullerton after EWU dropped its program, buried a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 15 for a share of the lead. Robydek three-putted for bogey on 16 to fall one shot behind.

Both players made pars on 17. Sisich and Robydek were left off the 18th tee, but a search group of about 15 couldn’t locate Sisich’s ball.

“That was probably the first shot I hit left all day,” said the 32-year-old Sisich, who caddies at Gozzer Ranch in Idaho and at a course near Palm Desert, Calif., and plays in tournaments when it fits his schedule. “I wish I could hit that shot over again, but I haven’t played (tournament golf) for a while.

“It was a fun week. It’s just tough when you’re not real sharp, especially in those situations when your body tends to speed up or slow down.”

Robydek’s drive ended up in knee-high grass but he carved it out for an easy two-putt par.

“I just told myself if you want to win this tournament you have to hit this golf shot,” he said. “I pulled out my gap wedge from 108 (yards) and just ripped it. It came out as good as I could have expected.”

Sisich holed his approach shot from the fairway on the par-4 second for eagle and led by one after nine holes. Robydek hit it beautifully on the first nine but missed a number of putts inside 10 feet.

The two back-nine par-5s supplied their customary drama and influence on the outcome. Sisich birdied 12 while Robydek made a remarkable par. Robydek’s drive found the hazard. His next shot from the drop zone hit a tree and the ball dropped straight down. He punched the ball just short of the green and drained the putt.

“The wheels come off and I end up making par,” he said. “My ball was up against the (tree) root and I chipped it off the root and then I made an 18-foot slinger.”

There was also a two-shot swing on the par-5 14th when Sisich bogeyed and Robydek two-putted for birdie.

Yakima’s Eric Gravbrot was the low amateur with a four-round total of 7-under 281.

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