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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Rosauers Open Invitational returns with strong field packed with past champs

UPDATED: Tue., July 13, 2021

Four-time Rosauers Open Invitational champion Corey Prugh watches a tee shot during the 2017 Lilac City Invitational.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Four-time Rosauers Open Invitational champion Corey Prugh watches a tee shot during the 2017 Lilac City Invitational. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

The Rosauers Open Invitational, one of six majors in the PGA Pacific Northwest Section, returns this week after a one-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So much has changed since Scott Erdmann erased a five-shot deficit and won the 2019 tournament in a playoff at Indian Canyon Golf Course.

That was prepandemic and shortly after an irrigation upgrade that has transformed Indian Canyon’s appearance. The initial scars from the project, noticeable during the 2019 tournament, are long gone.

A full field, including numerous past champions, highlights the 54-hole tournament Friday through Sunday. The popular two-day pro-am is Wednesday and Thursday.

“They’re in for a treat,” Indian Canyon pro Doug Phares said. “The last time they were here, (the course) was still starting up from the project. It is really nice. It’s a treat.”

Last year’s tournament was one of many sporting events canceled in response to the pandemic.

“It was disappointing for sure,” Phares said. “It’s something we gear our whole year toward. It was a bummer, but it was understandable. We could have held the tournament, but it wouldn’t have been anything like what we normally do.”

Phares said many sponsors still paid entry fees to assist donations to the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery last year.

“I don’t know what the exact numbers were, but we usually raise around $100,000 and last year it was about $65,000 or $70,000,” Phares said.

The tournament has raised more than $3 million for the nursery since its debut in 1988.

The list of title contenders at the 34th Rosauers Open Invitational runs deep. Erdmann, assistant pro at Oswego Lake Country Club near Portland, fired an 8-under-par 63 in the final round to pocket the $11,000 first-place check two years ago.

Past champions include Brady Sharp (2017), Community Colleges of Spokane golf coach Corey Prugh (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015), Tim Feenstra (2014), David Phay (2012), Kyle Kelly (2010), Jeff Coston (1997, 2006, 2008), former Idaho Vandal Ryan Benzel (2005) and Rob Gibbons (1991).

Coston, at age 65, won the Washington Open in May for the sixth time.

Every champion since 2007 is in the field except for former Washington State Cougar Derek Bayley, who won as an amateur in 2016 and 2018. Bayley’s 27-under 189 at MeadowWood in 2016 set the 54-hole tournament record.

Another name to watch is North Idaho College coach Russell Grove. He tied for fifth at the Wyoming State Open last weekend with rounds of 65, 67 and 64. Grove lost to Sharp in a playoff in the 2017 Rosauers after being assessed a controversial two-shot penalty following his round.

Amateurs often find their way onto the Rosauers leaderboard. Potential candidates this week include Hayden Lake Country Club’s Reid Hatley, Spokane’s Andrew Van Lossow and numerous regional college players.

“Andrew is certainly one of the better amateurs in the state,” Phares said. “He’s one our men’s club guys. He just had a 64 the other day.”

Low scores are the norm at Indian Canyon with the winner usually in the range of 194 to 200.

“It’s playing a touch longer because it’s more lush in the fairways and it’s watered properly,” Phares said. “The greens are perfectly healthy, which hasn’t always been the case. With our superintendent managing the trees as he’s been able to, they’re getting more sunlight.”

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