Cameron Whittle of Moses Lake and Aaron Whalen of Ephrata pulled away from the field with rounds of 65-63 to win the 61st Washington State Men’s Best-Ball Championship; while Robert Bracht of Lake Forest Park and Roger Thorn of Kirkland surged to the top in winning the 24th Washington State Senior Men’s Best-Ball Championship.
The two championships were held concurrently at Kalispel Golf and Country Club in Spokane, Wash. and were conducted by the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA). A total of 84 two-man teams competed in the two championships.
Starting today’s final round two shots behind first-round leaders Chris Bae of Issaquah and Brad Douglas of Redmond, the duo of Whittle and Whalen fired a string of birdies, as well as an eagle 3 on the par-5 16th by Whalen, en route to an 8-under par 63 to win by four shots over Matthew Steele and Tyler Matthews, both of Bellevue, who came charging up the leaderboard today by posting a 9-under 62, the low round of the championship and were the leaders in the clubhouse, waiting and watching as the final groups finished.
Steele and Matthews are two-time winners of this championship (2014, 2015), but couldn’t make up enough ground after posting a 1-under par 70 in yesterday’s first round.
Whalen is a former 2A high school individual champion who has earned his way into major events such as the 2015 U.S. Amateur, while Whittle is a past member of the Whitworth University men’s golf team. The two came ready to play.
“It was fun,” Whalen said. “We both played pretty solid, made minimum mistakes. It just all went well.”
The duo combined to go 4-under par on their last four holes in today’s final round. “We had an idea of how we stood (against the field),” Whalen said. “But we just wanted to keep making birdies. We were on a streak, so just kept it going.”
Whalen drove the 332-yard par-4 first hole for an easy two-putt birdie, and that set the tone for the day for the team.
Finishing third, five shots back of Whittle and Whalen, is the duo of Reid Hatley of Hayden Lake, Idaho and Nate Hair of Edwall, Wash. Hatley is a two-time WSGA Men’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year (2015, 2016), and Hair had won the 2014 Pacific Northwest Master-40 Amateur.
— WSGA Championships (@WSGAChampions) May 13, 2017
In the Senior Men’s Best-Ball, the team of Bracht and Thorn followed up yesterday’s opening round of 4-under 67 with a stellar 5-under 66 to pull away from the field, finishing three shots clear of second-place finishers Duane Diede of Everett and John Von Lossow of Kirkland. Diede and Von Lossow had been looking to defend their title, having won last year; they had also won this championship in 2014.
Bracht and Thorn started the day one shot behind first-round leaders Tracy Quickstad of Snohomish and Dan Thacker of Woodway, who had posted a 5-under par 66 in yesterday’s first round but fell back with a 2-over 73 today.
“You always hope you’re going to play this well,” Thorn said afterward, of their strong showing, “so it feels great when you actually do. We started out great today. Bob birdied the first hole, I birdied the second and then he birdied the third, so we were off and running.”
Added Bracht, “Roger was the key yesterday. I barely helped at all (because of a bad back). I felt better today, and so was able to contribute more.”
— WSGA Championships (@WSGAChampions) May 12, 2017
The Washington State Men’s Best-Ball Championship was previously known as the Inglewood Best-Ball from 1956 until 1993, when in 1994 the WSGA began to run the event and introduced the Senior Men’s Best-Ball.
Founded in 1922, the WSGA is a 501c4 non-profit, amateur golf association governed by men and women volunteers. Serving over 68,000 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.