Californian Shotaro Ban let all the off-the-course story lines play out this week at the 111th Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur Championship, then took care of the biggest one inside the ropes.
Winning the title.
Ban, a sophomore-to-be at the University of California, raced out to an 8-up lead, survived a mid-match lull, and finally put away Bainbridge Island’s Carl Jonson, the top seed, 5 and 4, in the championship match at Wine Valley Golf Club in Walla Walla.
Ban won six of the first eight holes, with the highlight coming on the par-5 seventh hole, where he holed out a wedge approach for eagle from 105 yards to take a 5-up lead. He then birdied the par-3 eighth to extend his cushy advantage.
That lead would grow to 8-up after 13 holes, but Jonson – whose father, Ed, won this title in 1974 – rallied. He won the 14th hole with a birdie – and birdied four of the next seven holes to trim the deficit.
Jonson got it to 2-down by the 22nd hole, but that was as close as he would get. Ban birdied that par 4, then nearly chipped in for eagle three holes later to win another hole.
When Jonson three-putted the 27th hole for bogey to hand Ban a 4-up lead, the match was essentially over.
“Give credit to Ban,” Jonson said. “He really did hit the shots today.”
The last California native to win this title was Jason Kang in 2008.
PHAY LEADS ROSAUERS BY THREE STROKES
David Phay, the head professional at Whidbey Golf and Country Club, fired a 7-under-par 64, and will take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the Rosauers Open Invitational in Spokane.
Phay sits at 16-under 126 – three shots better than Seattle’s Ryan Benzel (62) at 129.
Defending champion Corey Prugh (65) is four shots back at 130. The final round is today at Indian Canyon Golf Course.