Charlie Kern of Mercer Island, Wash. played steady golf over three rounds, shooting 71-72-72, to win the 89th Washington State Men's Amateur Championship. Kern had started today's final round five shots behind second-round leader Joe Harvie of Orting, Wash.
After three rounds played in difficult windy conditions, no player in the field finished under par.
The 54-hole championship was held on the par-71 Rope Rider course at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Wash. and was conducted by the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA).
Playing together in the final group of the day, Harvie had extended his lead over Kern, his closest pursuer, to a seemingly insurmountable eight shots after eagling the par-5 second hole, the second consecutive day he had eagled the hole.
But Harvie would go 6-over par over the next eight holes, while Kern birdied holes six and seven, and the two players were tied for the lead at even par while standing on the 11th tee, and it became a two-man horse race to the finish.
Harvie will be a sophomore at Seattle University and a couple months ago was name the Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year for golf.
Kern is continuing his good play this summer. A recent graduate of William & Mary in Virginia, he finished tied for seventh at the Sahalee Players Championship last month, and the following week won medalist honors at the PNGA Men's Amateur, eventually making it to that championship's semifinals.
Asked what he was thinking after finding himself so far behind the leader early in the round, Kern said, "Well, I told myself not to panic. As difficult as the course was playing, I knew there was going to be some mistakes made and I just stayed patient. I just assumed there would be some bogeys and maybe I could close the gap."
The two players were still tied for the lead playing the 18th hole, but Harvie double-bogeyed the hole.
Also playing in the final group with Kern and Harvie was Whalen, the reigning Washington 2A High School champion who began the day tied with Kern. But after taking a quadruple-bogey nine on the par-5 eighth hole, Whalen was no longer a factor and finished tied for fifth.
Winning this championship closes out Kern's amateur career. In September he will move to South Carolina, turn professional and attempt to qualify for the Web.com Tour and PGA Tour Canada.
Finishing tied for fifth is Joe Lanza of Poulsbo, Wash., who won this championship in 2004. Lanza turned professional shortly after that victory, but after a couple years playing the mini tours he regained his amateur status and became a school teacher.
Tyler Salsbury of Enumclaw, Wash., who won this championship last year, tied for eighth. He will be senior in the fall at the University of Washington.
For complete final results, including hole-by-hole scores, click here. Respond to the championship on Twitter at the handles @WSGA1922 and @WSGAChampions and use the hashtag #WSGAMensAm.
Past champions of the Washington State Amateur include Fred Couples, Alex Prugh, Brock Mackenzie, Kermit Zarley, Chris Williams, John Bodenhamer, and PNGA Hall of Famers Al Mengert, Bud Ward, Jack Westland and Harry Givan, among many others.
Suncadia Resort is located on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains in Cle Elum, Wash. The resort has three golf courses - Rope Rider, Prospector and Tumble Creek. Designed by the team of Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy, Rope Rider also hosted the 2013 WSGA Men's and Women's Mid-Amateur Championships.
Tags: Charlie Kern, Cle Elum, Joe Harvie, Slideshow, Suncadia Resort, WSGA Men's Amateur