CRESWELL, OR (August 9, 2009)--The final round of the 54-hole Oregon Men’s Stroke Play Championship at Emerald Valley Golf Club began with Doug Banks, 52, of Portland, Ore. trying to maintain his slim 1-stroke lead over two-time defending champion and the reigning Oregon Senior Amateur Champion Patrick O’Donnell, 55, of Clackamas, Ore., and George Walker, 53 the 2007 Oregon Senior Amateur Champion.
It was not to be Banks’ day in the limelight as he faltered down the stretch with a couple unfortunate breaks allowing the typically infallible O’Donnell the breaks he needed to snatch his third consecutive Stroke Play title.
“He [Banks] played really well,” said O’DOnnell. “It was just two bad breaks in a row. He fried it on 14, and then got a little ahead of himself trying to wedge it close on 15 sending it into the bunker again. That’s where I stuffed it to 3-feet and made birdie.”
O’Donnell has been one of the top senior golfers in the region for the last several years. This past week, he was the runner-up to former PGA Tour professional Jeff Coston at the Oregon Open Invitational held at Wildhorse Resort, finishing at 16-under par after shooting 68-67-65—200, just 2-strokes behind Coston, but 6-strokes ahead of the next closest competitor. The Invitational features the best professional and amateur senior golfers in the Pacific Northwest.
“I like 54-hole events,” said O’Donnell. “I had 7-birdies in my final round at the Invitational, but only matched that in my three rounds here. It’s a tough course.” Tomorrow, O’Donnell will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Senior Amateur at Riverside.
While the Seniors were finishing up, the leaders in the Open Division were beginning their battle. At no time did anyone threaten to take the lead away from 36-hole leaders Andrew Vijarro of Bend, Ore., the defending champion, and Paul Peterson of Salem, Ore. In fact, it was mostly a battle just between these two players.
Vijarro played steady all day, posting an even-par 72 with just one bogey and birdie while Peterson was a little more erratic with three birdies and bogeys also enroute to an even par round. He wasn’t sinking the putts he did yesterday when he moved into position after scoring a competitive course record 65 on the championship course.
Vijarro had a one stroke advantage going into the final hole after an incredible par save on the par-3 17th hole when he had to hit out of the hazard.
Peterson, however, was not concerned as the par-5 18th hole, his favorite on the course, awaited. “The 18th hole sets up well for my draw, said the southpaw Peterson. “And the front right hole location today also setup well for my game.” Peterson nearly reached the 577-yard green in two and was able to score a birdie to force a playoff.
How much does he like the hole? Peterson not only birdied the 18th hole each of the three rounds of the championship, but he also birdied it two years ago in this Championship to force a playoff—one that he lost after four holes to Brooks Newsom of Portland.
“I didn’t want that feeling again,” said Peterson reflecting on his walk back to the clubhouse after that playoff loss. “I’ve come a long way since then. I really learned a lot this last season at Oregon State. Peterson, who will be a senior this fall, led the OSU team with a 72.33 scoring average.
In the playoff, Peterson hit his shots to nearly identical locations ultimately leaving another birdie opportunity while Vijarro got into trouble. “I knew the putt,” noted Peterson after he made birdie yet again.
Vijarro came close to repeat as champion and join the few who have won both the Oregon Amateur and Stroke Play titles in the same season.“I didn’t have any rounds over par this week, so I don’t feel like I lost it,” said Vijarro. “He won it. It was incredible that Paul was able move up 7-strokes yesterday to make it a match. He played great and birdied the last hole to force a playoff and birdied it again to win.”
One of the other highlights of the day came in the form of a Hole-in-One made with a 7-iron by Matt Jacobsen on the par-3 167-yard 2nd Hole.
The Men’s Stroke Play showcases the best male players in Oregon and SW Washington with the minimum qualification for entrants is a handicap index of 5.0 or less for male amateur golfers 13 years of age and older, and those 50 years of age and older may play in a Senior Divison and must have a handicap index of 10.0 or less.
View results for Oregon Men's Stroke Play Golf Championship