Bremerton’s Ryan Kelly sees this process entirely as a way to get better as a PGA Tour caddie.
He is the older brother of PGA Tour golfer Troy Kelly, who played a limited schedule in the spring before having season-ending surgery on his knee.
The circumstance gave Ryan Kelly, 39, an opportunity to play more golf, and he turned it into a tournament victory Sunday by winning the Fircrest Amateur at Fircrest Golf Club.
Kelly shot a 3-under-par 68 in the final round to run away with the tournament title. His two-round total of 8-under 134 was good for a six-stroke victory over Ryan Welborn, whose 68 gave him a 140 total.
“I played really well,” Kelly said. “I’ve had the summer off, so it’s been fun to play. And I’m kind of using it to hopefully help me and my brother.”
Kelly was planning on being on the PGA Tour all season long after his brother was the runner-up at the 2012 Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia, giving him full-time playing privileges this season.
“I thought it was going to be a great year for us,” Kelly said. “And (Troy) was limping from the start. The year just never materialized.”
By April, Ryan Kelly was out of a caddie job. So he came home and entered a bunch of amateur tournaments.
He finished second at the Capital City Amateur, followed by a top-10 finish at the Tacoma City Amateur. And last week, he placed third at the Riverbend Amateur.
Kelly held a three-shot lead entering the final round Sunday, but it was Welborn who made a charge.
Welborn was 5-under par through 10 holes to trim Kelly’s lead to two strokes.
But Welborn made back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 2 and 3 to fall back.
“I got nervous. I did,” Welborn said. “(Kelly) is great. I didn’t think I would get there no matter what I did today.”
Kelly rallied with birdies at Nos. 4, 7 and 9 to close the door on the victory. He was also the 2011 Fircrest Amateur champion.
“I have been close. It’s been fun,” Kelly said. “I closed it out. I scored well.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com