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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jamie Hall drives off with Lilac title

Jamie Hall has put 4,800 miles on his car during a 30-day road trip that included five golf tournaments and a near miss at qualifying for the PGA Barracuda Championship.

The 27-year-old pro finished off the trip in style Sunday, capturing the Lilac City Invitational title with a steady 6-under 66 at the Fairways for a one-shot victory over Brad Marek.

Hall put the pedal to the metal late in the final round with birdies on Nos. 14 and 16 and a nervy two-putt par on 18. Marek started the day with a one-shot lead but dropped into second when Hall burned up the front side in 5-under 31.

Hall, who splits time between Seattle and caddying at Troon North in Scottsdale, Arizona, ventured to Wyoming, Colorado, Santa Rosa (California) and Reno before finding the winner’s circle at the Fairways and collecting the Joe Durgan Memorial Trophy.

Despite a fairly crowded leaderboard, Hall looked like he was on a casual Sunday stroll, chomping on gum and chatting with brother/caddie Will.

“I just really enjoy golfing, whether it’s a tournament or playing with buddies,” said Hall, who shot 17-under 199 over 54 holes and pocketed $5,000. “Having my brother out here helped keep me calm. There are definitely moments I get frustrated. I don’t show it, but I’m grateful to have him on the bag.”

Hall, Marek and Spokane’s Eric Ansett played in the final threesome, so they knew where they stood but they had no way of tracking the rest of the field. The Lilac typically has updated scores posted on the back of carts with the final 3 to 4 groups, but that wasn’t an option with COVID-19 protocols limiting spectators. There were no gallery claps for birdies, and the usual fleet of carts following the final groups was noticeably smaller.

As it turned out, the biggest challenger to Hall and Marek was Kyle Mitsunaga, playing in the second-to-last group. The former Boise State golfer was 16 under after a birdie on No. 14, but he three-putted No. 18 to finish in third place.

“It’s kind of like everything this year,” Hall said. “You have to do it on the fly, and there’s no exact way to figure out anything right now. I knew if I could keep one or two strokes ahead of everyone in my group, and nobody else was going too deep, I could pull it out.”

Hall had a brief stumble on the par-5 12, absorbing a one-shot penalty after his drive found the water hazard and then three-putting for bogey. He moved to 16 under with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 14. He added to his lead on 16 after smoking his drive within five yards of the front edge on the 371-yard hole. His chip rolled within four feet, and he knocked in the birdie putt.

“The chip was probably as good as the drive,” Hall said.

“He obliterated that one on 16,” said Marek, a 36-year-old pro based in Berkeley, California, who said he’s probably played on every mini-tour in the U.S. “I thought it was a leaf when I drove up there, and it turns out it’s his ball. He’s got some clubhead speed, touch around the greens, and he’s a really good guy, too.”

Marek birdied No. 17 to pull within one. He had a good look at birdie on the closing hole, but his putt slid by the left edge of the cup. Meanwhile, Hall pushed his tee shot into heavy rough, then gouged a pitching wedge from 165 yards to about 35 feet from the hole. He holed a 4-footer for the win.

“I was glad I left the first putt below the hole, so I could be aggressive with the next one,” Hall said.

Hall was 5-under through seven holes at the Barracuda qualifier but didn’t finish strong. He corrected that problem Sunday.

Spokane’s Andrew Von Lossow (68-70-75) was the low amateur. Tournament organizers presented a $3,500 check to Shriners Hospital for Children–Spokane.