Andrew Vijarro and Jesse Schutte are more than a decade removed from competing against each other at Oregon junior golf events.
The two young pros often end up at the same tournaments on the West Coast and the Dakotas Tour in the Midwest. The pair and third-round leader Corey Prugh staged an entertaining battle at the Lilac City Invitational on a breezy Sunday at the Fairways.
The region’s only 72-hole event came down to the last hole and last stroke as Vijarro’s 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 capped a sizzling 9-under 63 for a one-shot win over Schutte.
“I heard about this tournament randomly when I was in Arizona in the winter,” said Vijarro, who lives in Bend, Oregon. “When you hear it’s 50 guys and 10 grand to the winner, you come play.”
The 27-year-old Vijarro, who played for the University of Oregon, fist-pumped after his ball disappeared into the cup on 18, believing that his 24-under 264 had clinched the $10,000 first-place check.
Schutte, playing one group behind, had other ideas. The University of Oklahoma product birdied 16 – unbeknownst to Vijarro – to move to 23 under. After a par on 17, Schutte laced his drive into the wind on 18 and tucked his short approach shot 10 feet right of the pin.
Before reaching the green, Schutte learned of Vijarro’s closing birdie. Schutte’s putt was quick with quite a bit of break and it dove left over the last few feet. He settled for par and a second-place check of $4,500.
“I couldn’t believe he birdied the last hole,” Schutte said. “I thought I was going to have a putt to win. I get up there and oh crap, I have to make it to tie. That’s a little different situation.
“I wanted to be aggressive, but I was just a little bit tentative unfortunately.”
Prugh, who began the day two shots in front of Brian Miller, three in front of Schutte and four ahead of Vijarro, gave up the lead after six holes. The Manito assistant pro played the front in 1 over to drop one behind Schutte.
Prugh heated up with birdies on 11, 12, 14 and 15 to reach 22 under but doubled No. 18 to finish third.
Meanwhile, Vijarro moved on top with an eagle on the par-5 14th, which followed birdies on 10, 11 and 12. He had quality looks at birdie on 16 and 17 before draining his clutch putt on 18.
“I came from four behind in Arizona and shot 63 in the final round about three months ago, so I like 63, I guess,” said Vijarro, whose Oregon teams reached the final four twice and lost to Jordan Spieth and Texas in 2012. “The wind picked up, which helped me because I like playing in the wind.”
Schutte, 29, battled shoulder and neck discomfort the first three days. The Scottsdale-based pro felt better Sunday and it was apparent in his play. He was 5 under on the four par 5s.
Schutte’s approach on No. 14 from 205 yards had barely left his club when he said, ‘Can’t hit it any better.’ It ended up 6 feet from the hole and he made the eagle putt to pull within one of Vijarro.
“I hit the ball a lot better on the back nine,” Schutte said. “I came to compete and that’s exactly what I was doing. You try not to think about the score, you just try to hit every shot the best you can.”
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