Chase Carlson was completely oblivious to what was going on, or his positioning with Derek Bayley with on the final hole of the Washington State Men’s Amateur golf tournament over the weekend at Tacoma County and Golf Club.
But after shooting par on the 18th hole and defeating Bayley (Washington State) in a six-hole, sudden-death playoff, the Puyallup High graduate claimed the 90th Washington State Men’s Amateur title.
“I just thought it was going to take a really special round to win, not a 70,” Carlson said. “I’m still trying to process winning the title. When I missed my birdie putt on the 18th, I casually tapped it in for par thinking that Derek won. I didn’t find out until after that the birdie was to win the title.”
After watching Bayley’s 5-foot putt spin off the left of the hole, Carlson calmly tapped in a 2-footer to claim the championship.
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“It’s been a few days and I’m still processing actually winning the title,” Carlson said Monday.
By winning, Carlson earned an automatic invitation to the National Men’s Amateur tournament next summer, checking off on one of Carlson’s career goals.
“Knowing that I have that set for next summer, I’m just hoping I can use that to help me with my confidence during the season,” said Carlson, who is coming off his redshirt year with the Colorado Christian men’s golf team.
Now that Carlson has one huge championship in his pocket, his focus on his season in Lakewood, Colorado, begins his career with the Cougars in the fall.
Stylish summer endings
All Carlson thought about throughout the day was distance he stood to overnight leader Joe Highsmith, the Bellarmine Prep standout who entered the day at 8-under, with a four-stroke lead on him.
Carlson spent days toiling on this golf course over the years, becoming intimately acquainted with edges of the fairway, and the roll of the greens.
Entering the final day and trailing Highsmith, Carlson treated last Thursday like so many other days he spent at Tacoma Country and Golf Club.
“I knew I had to play pretty solid to give myself a chance, because I knew how well Joe was playing. I was surprised he dropped back just cause I (have) played with him a couple of years now. I know the quality of his game,” said Carlson of the 16-year-old Bellarmine Prep standout. “(About) the middle of the round, I found out that Derek was playing really well, and I was three shots back.”
Then Carlson walked up to the 16th hole with bad memories fresh in his mind. Normally thought as one of the course’s easiest holes, for Carlson, it was more of a thorn in his side. One that always made tempers rise, and, sometimes, sent his clubs flying.
“I always had trouble on that hole. But for some reason I felt calm when I walked up to my tee shot,” Carlson said. “Hitting that eagle was one of the best memories I had from the tournament.”
Carlson nailed a 25-footer on the 16th, placing him within reach of Bayley, the leader at the time, heading into the tournament’s final two holes.
“It was a great summer ... a good way to end it,” Carlson said. “I feel like I have arrived onto the (golf) scene now.”