Washington State Men's Am: Bixler Goes Wire-to-Wire

Port Orchard, Wash. (Friday, June 30, 2006) - Zach Bixler of Richland went wire to wire in 72 holes of play to win the 80th WSGA Men's State Amateur Championship, hosted by McCormick Woods Golf Course in Port Orchard.

Bixler, a member of the University of Washington golf team, contributed his win to his recent dedication to improving his putting stroke. "I have been working really hard on my putting stroke in the last couple of months, and it paid off for me this week" said Bixler. In the first three rounds of play, Bixler was a combined 2-over par on the back nine holes (#10-#18). He was well aware of that this afternoon as he made the turn to the back nine with a two-stroke lead. "I played the first two holes on the back nine well all week, but didn't play holes #12-#14 very well, so I focused on just keeping the ball in play" added Bixler. Bixler was the only player to finish under par for the championship, 68-73-71-73-285, 4-under par.

Bixler is hardly unknown to amateur golf in the state of Washington. In 2003, he won the State 4A golf championship as a senior, leading Richland High School to their second straight team title, and in 2002 at the age of 17, he won the Washington Junior Golf Association state championship. His college career is heading in the same direction after finishing 20th in the NCAA Championship this year as a sophomore, and he was recently named a 2006 PING All-America honorable mention.

There was a three-way tie for runner-up. Defending champion, Alex Prugh, of Spokane, Jimmy Hayes of Redmond, and Joseph Prince of Bellevue all finished at even par 288 for the championship. Ironically, Prugh and Bixler were paired together in the final round in the 2005 WSGA Men's Amateur, when Bixler finished runner-up to Prugh.

The championship called for 72 holes of stroke play, with the starting field of 138 being cut on Wednesday to the lowest 60 scorers and ties. The cut was 18-over par (162).

Past champions of this championship, which started in 1922, include Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, and Kermit Zarley, a longtime PGA Tour player.

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