Conner Robbins stood on the 14th tee box at Indian Canyon with a five-stroke lead after hitting quality shot after quality shot Sunday.
After a messy double bogey and Zach Stocker dropping a 20-foot birdie putt in the group ahead, Robbins’ lead was down to two on the 15th tee.
Robbins’ stress-free afternoon was gone, but not his poise or his smooth swing. He used two clutch shots – a delicate chip to save par on No. 17 and an 8-iron approach on the par-5 18th that led to an eagle – to hold off Stocker for a two-shot win at the 36th Rosauers Open Invitational.
“I was in a very relaxed mindset,” said Robbins, who collected $11,000 for his first PGA Pacific Northwest Section win with the added bonus of it being a major title. “The first round (Friday) I was super nervous the whole day. When I’m in contention, I kind of get this adrenaline-nerve thing going and it doesn’t bother me. It actually helps a little bit.
“Even then (after No. 14), my game is good right now so I just rely on it.”
Robbins closed with a 5-under 66 for a 54-hole total of 19-under 194. Stocker, a Central Valley High and Gonzaga grad, closed with a 65 to take second place and finish as low amateur.
Derek Berg, who shared the lead with Robbins entering the final round, finished third, one shot behind Stocker. Berg, an instructor at the Pacific Northwest Golf Academy in Issaquah, Washington, and Robbins, golf coach at the University of Puget Sound and an instructor at Tacoma’s North Shore Golf Course, were four-year teammates at the University of Washington.
“It definitely feels good,” said Stocker, who plans on turning pro this fall. “I’ve won low amateur before (in 2019), but I wasn’t really in the mix with the pros. It was nice to be there, especially to put pressure on (Robbins) and make him hit some shots. Props to him.”
It was a special three days for Robbins, who aced No. 11, his second hole in Friday’s opening round, fired a 10-under 61 Saturday and, save for a hiccup on No. 14, was rock solid Sunday.
Robbins has 19 career aces, but Friday’s was his first in a tournament. His 61 matched his best tournament score. That came after Robbins weakened his grip during a range session with fellow pro Tony Robydek, producing a repeatable, gentle hook on most of his drives and approach shots.
“Huge week for me, it just didn’t stop,” Robbins said. “I’ve got a lot of second places in my life, I think four times at the Lilac (Open Invitational at the Fairways). This is one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had.”
Robbins, 43, hit nearly every fairway and every green in regulation and gave himself good-to-great looks at birdie through the first 13 holes. He had an easy two-putt birdie on the par-5 second. He made 9-foot birdie putts on Nos. 6 and 8. He stuck his approach to 3 feet on No. 10 for another bird and settled for birdie on No. 12 after narrowly missing an eagle putt.
Stocker, who had eagles on Nos. 2 and 12, turned up the pressure with a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 15 to pull within one shot of Robbins. Stocker’s birdie attempt from 20 feet on No. 17 burned the left edge and his eagle chip at No. 18 was close to falling.
Robbins responded with pars at 15, 16 and 17. The latter wasn’t a given as he faced a tricky, downhill chip.
“I just bellied it with a lob wedge, kind of putted it,” Robbins said of the shot that came to rest 2 feet from the hole. “I’ve been doing it a lot the last couple of years, and I probably hit that shot four times in the tournament, counting the pro-am.”
Robbins sealed the win with an 8-iron from 167 yards on No. 18 and capitalized by draining an uphill 14-footer for eagle.
“I aimed at the flag and it was a full 8-iron so I could swing at it,” Robbins said. “If I hooked it, it goes to the left side of the green and I could two-putt it. If it goes straight, right on. It ended up perfect.”
Ryan Benzel, who played at Idaho and won the 2005 Rosauers, shot 63 to finish fourth at 15-under 198.
The loudest ovation during the awards ceremony came when tournament officials presented a $170,000 check to Vanessa Behan, which provides sanctuary for at-risk children.