Garrett Rank (Charles Cherney/Western Golf Association)
The vast majority of the Western Amateur field was made up of collegians – incoming freshmen, current players and fresh graduates. Then there’s Garrett Rank, a 31-year-old Canadian who competes in golf in the summer and referees NHL hockey in the winter. Rank is one of the most impressive mid-amateurs in the game, yet his legend grew this week at Point O’Woods Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Mich.
Rank outlasted the kids for a Western Amateur title – a win that's unheard of for a thirtysomething in today’s amateur climate. In fact, he becomes the first mid-amateur to win this title since 1997.
The foreshadowing came from Rank’s own mouth on Friday evening, after playing his way to the semifinals.
“I’ve been playing a lot of really good golf the last three or four weeks,” he said.
True to his word, Rank started his summer with an 11th-place finish at the Dogwood Invitational. As he accepted his award for low mid-amateur honors, Rank made one thing clear: He still wants to beat the young guys, and he still very much believes he can.
Rank made a remarkable five starts in the seven weeks between the Dogwood and the Western. He finished fifth at last week’s Porter Cup.
Rank’s trip to the final match included head-to-head wins against UCLA’s Hidetoshi Yoshihara, Clemson's Turk Pettit and Arizona’s David Laskin.
On Saturday afternoon, he took on Ohio State graduate Daniel Wetterich, another player who has shown up week in and week out on the amateur circuit. The two men traded the lead back and forth, with Rank making birdie at the ninth to take a 2-up lead into the back nine. He won by an eventual 3-and-2 margin.
“I’ve had a lot of close calls in big events,” Rank said. “To finally break through is huge. I’m a big believer in the more you put yourself under pressure you learn something every time. I relied on that.”
The win gives Rank an exemption into next year’s Evans Scholars Invitational at The Glen Club in Glenview, Illinois. Wetterich also received an invitation into the Korn Ferry Tour event.
“I’m really excited about how I played,” Wetterich said. “Overall, I’m really content with the week, and I will build on what I did [Saturday] going forward.”
Quotes from the Western Golf Association used in this report
ABOUT THE Western Amateur
Invitational event, and the most important
tournament in American amateur golf outside of the
U.S. Amateur. With a grueling schedule, it's quite
hardest amateur tournament to win.
156 invited players come from across the
globe to play one of the toughest formats in
amateur golf. The tournament starts with 18
holes of stroke play on Tuesday and
Wednesday after which the field is cut to the
low 44 scores and ties. Thursday it's a long
day of 36 holes of stroke play to determine
the “Sweet Sixteen” who compete at Match
Play on Friday and Saturday (two matches
each day if you're going to the finals) to
decide the champion.
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