The 9th Washington State Golf Association Champion of Champions concluded play today at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash. This year’s field consisted of 136 champions from around the state of Washington and Northern Idaho, competing in four divisions – Men, Senior Men, Women and Senior Women. It was one of the strongest fields in the history of the championship.
Jon McCaslin of Olympia won the Men’s title, Sarah Lawrence of Duvall won the Women’s, Tom Brandes of Bellevue won the Senior Men’s and Leslie Folsom of Tukwila won the Senior Women’s.
McCaslin began today’s final round tied for seventh, three shots behind first-round leader Rylee Iacolucci of Renton. But starting with a birdie on the first hole, McCaslin proceeded to take the course apart under perfect weather conditions, blistering the scorecard with an astounding 11 birdies on his way to an 8-under 64, and coupled with his first round 70 was good enough for a 1-shot victory over Kevin Beavers of Seattle and Kyle Cornett of Mill Creek.
Cornett had seized an early clubhouse lead with a 64 of his own, but McCaslin birdied his last three holes to overcome Cornett and Beavers. McCaslin has qualified to play in the WSGA Champion of Champions in previous years, but this is his first victory in the championship.
“I was hitting my driver really well, leaving just short wedge shots into the par-4s, hitting them in tight and capitalizing on them,” McCaslin said.
McCaslin, 34, plays out of Capitol City Golf Course in Olympia. A top baseball prospect in college, an arm injury ended his dream of playing in the major leagues, so he turned his athletic focus to his golf game. He has won numerous titles in the area, with multiple victories in the Kitsap Amateur, Capitol City Amateur, Tacoma City Amateur and Lewis County Amateur.
Lawrence shot under par in both rounds in winning the Women’s title, putting her foot on the gas in today’s final round by shooting 4-under 68, helped by an eagle 3 on the par-5 10th hole. Her two-day total of 5-under 139 gave her a solid five-stroke victory over second-place finisher Victoria Fallgren.
This is the second title for Lawrence, also winning in 2016. Lawrence, 20, does not play golf for a college, but is no stranger to competition. She has recently won four titles on the Golf Channel Amateur Tour, playing against the boys.
Fallgren was named the 2017 WSGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year, having won last year’s Washington State Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship. She is the assistant coach for the women’s golf team at Gonzaga University.
With rounds of 67-69, Brandes cruised to his third title in row in the Senior Men’s championship, and fourth overall (he also won in 2012). The 2017 WSGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year is off to a great start this season, coasting to a three-shot victory over second-place finisher Jim McNelis of Gig Harbor, Wash.
Brandes birdied holes nine, 10 and 11, but didn’t know where he stood against the field. “I wasn’t too sure what was going on in front of me with the other competitors,” he said. “You never want to feel too comfortable, and when I bogeyed the 14th I got a little nervous.” But he coasted in from there, with pars on the remaining holes.
Folsom shot rounds of 72-75, sealing her 3-shot victory in the Senior Women’s division over second-place finisher, and defending champion, Gretchen Klein of Hoquiam. Folsom had started the day with her 3-shot cushion, and held steady with it throughout the round.
“I started out the round today very steady,” Folsom said. “I made a few bogeys and a couple birdies, but I drove the ball real well and hit a lot of greens. Gretchen played really well, and it was almost like match play.” Klein and Folsom were paired together in today’s final round.
Yasue Alkins of Steilacoom, who won the Senior Women’s title in 2012 and was named the 2017 WSGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year, had a hole-in-one today on the 119-yard par-3 14th hole.
Folsom had previously won the Women’s title in 2014 and 2015, and had received the 2013 WSGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year award.
The championship marks the beginning of the WSGA championship season and is hosted annually by The Home Course, which is cooperatively owned and operated by the Washington State Golf Association and Pacific Northwest Golf Association, and has been the site of numerous local, regional and national championships, including being the companion course to Chambers Bay for the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the venue for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. The Home Course will also be the companion course to Chambers Bay for the 2021 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.
The Champion of Champions is one of 15 championships conducted annually by the WSGA.
Founded in 1922, the WSGA is a 501c4 non-profit, amateur golf association governed by men and women volunteers. Serving nearly 70,000 individual members at more than 550 member golf clubs and 270 golf courses throughout the state of Washington and Northern Idaho, the WSGA works to continually expand the game of golf to people of all backgrounds.
The WSGA also serves as a statewide representative of the United States Golf Association (USGA) and works closely with a number of allied associations within the golf industry for the betterment of the game.