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RJ Manke completes final round comeback to win Washington State Amateur



RJ Manke of Lakewood, Wash. shot rounds of 67-64-64 to win the 92nd Washington State Amateur Championship, held this week at the par-70 Gamble Sands course in Brewster, Wash. The three-day 54-hole championship was conducted by the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA).

RJ Manke looks over a putt during the final round of the 92nd Washington State Men's Amateur.

Championship links:

Manke had started today’s final round in a four-way tie for second, two shots behind leader Brian Mogg of Issaquah, Wash.

Manke was paired with Mogg in today’s final group, and Mogg had maintained his two-shot lead after nine holes, but it was on the 10th hole that the championship swung in Manke’s favor. A short 155-yard par-3 with the flag tucked in the front-right corner, the hole proved to be the pivotal point when Mogg, a left-hander, pulled his tee shot into the back edge of the right bunker and found himself with a difficult shot. He would triple-bogey the hole, and when Manke made his eight-foot birdie putt, it was a four-shot swing, and Manke leaped from two shots back to two shots in front.

“The 10th hole is a hole I really like, and I felt I could really get the momentum going,” Manke said, who would birdie the hole all three rounds of the championship.

“At that point I was feeling pretty good because I really like the back nine,” Manke said afterward. “I felt confident I could finish well.” Manke would make 13 birdies on the back nine over the course of the three-day championship, including five in today’s final round alone.

This is the third year in a row that a player from Tacoma Country & Golf Club in Lakewood has won this championship. Last year, Joe Highsmith won it, and two years ago it was Chase Carlson. Highsmith and Manke are both graduates of Tacoma’s Bellarmine Prep, and both are now playing on the Pepperdine University men’s golf team, with Manke entering his sophomore year, one year ahead of the freshman Highsmith.

As a junior golfer, Manke was selected to play for Team Washington in three Junior America’s Cups, and helped Bellarmine Prep win three 4A High School State Championships.

Manke now adds his name to past champions of the Washington State Amateur, names which include Fred Couples, Alex Prugh, Brock Mackenzie, Chris Williams, Kermit Zarley, John Bodenhamer, and Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Famers Al Mengert, Bud Ward, Jack Westland and Harry Givan, among many others.

Finishing second, two shots back of Manke, was Michael Almonte of Fircrest, Wash., and third place went to Reid Hatley of Hayden Lake, Idaho, the three-time WSGA Men’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year (2015, 2016, 2017).

The state’s premier men’s amateur championship, which is a counting event toward the World Amateur Golf Ranking, traditionally attracts the region’s finest players.

Click here to watch course architect David McLay Kidd discuss how competitors can best play Gamble Sands in this year’s championship. And click here to watch Gamble Sands’ General Manager Brady Hatfield discuss this year’s championship.

Opened in 2014 and designed by David McLay Kidd, Gamble Sands was immediately tagged as the No. 1 “Best New Course” by both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine, and is currently No. 37 on Golf Digest’s “Top 100 Public Courses.” Gamble Sands is managed by OB Sports Golf Management.

The course normally plays to a par 72, but for this championship the fifth and 18 holes were played as par 4s, rather than par 5s, with the fifth hole playing as a 517-yard par 4, and the 18th hole as a 536-yard par 4.

Founded in 1922, the WSGA is a 501c4 non-profit, amateur golf association governed by men and women volunteers. Serving over 69,000 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.

To join the conversation on social media, follow WSGA Championships on Twitter @WSGAChampions and use the hashtag #WSGAMensAm for live tweets and updates.


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