Friendly rivals tied for Snohomish County Am lead

MILL CREEK — Mark Strickland and Dylan Goodwin are former high school teammates, current college teammates, school-year roommates and longtime pals.

But this afternoon at Everett Golf and Country Club, friendship gives way to rivalry.

Strickland and Goodwin share the second-round lead of the 82nd-annual Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament, and the two teammates — formerly at Kamiak High School, currently at Western Washington University — will be matched in the final foursome for today’s decisive 18 holes at Everett G&CC.

“I’m excited,” said the 20-year-old Strickland who, like Goodwin, represents Mukilteo’s Harbour Pointe Golf Course. “I can’t wait. It’s going to be fun.”

“We play a lot of golf together,” said the 22-year-old Goodwin, “but I’m sure this will be different, considering it’s tournament mode. I’m sure there won’t be as many words spoken. But he’s a competitor, so it’ll be fun going head to head.”

Strickland followed Saturday’s first-round 70 at Everett’s Legion Memorial Golf Course with a second-round 73 at Mill Creek Country Club on Sunday, giving him a two-day total of 1-under-par 143. After opening with a 75, Goodwin came back on Sunday with a 68 — the low round of the day — for a matching 143.

Joining Strickland and Goodwin in today’s final group will be Chris Babcock of Everett G&CC, who had a 73 on Sunday for an even-par total of 144 and third place, and John Pechan of Harbour Pointe, who is tied for fourth after a 72 on Sunday for a two-round total of 2-over 146.

That foursome will start at approximately 1:30 p.m. today, the last group off the tee at stately Everett G&CC. Barring any unexpected bad weather, a big crowd is expected.

“And that’s what makes the County Am so special,” Strickland said. “It’s not like other local amateurs around here. There’ll be hundreds of people watching on the last day, so it’s a totally different atmosphere than any other amateur tournament I’ve been to.”

Strickland put together a nice round of four birdies and two bogeys through 17 holes, then suffered a triple-bogey 7 on No. 18 after losing his ball in the underbrush off the tee, and later dropping his approach shot in a greenside bunker.

Despite the discouraging finish, “I hit it well all day,” Strickland said. “One bad shot was pretty much all it was. … (Otherwise) I played good. I had a ton of tap-in pars.”

Goodwin breezed through the front nine with a terrific 4-under 32, added another birdie on No. 12, gave back a stroke on the next hole, “and then did a lot of scrambling from there” to close with five straight pars.

Goodwin had one of only two sub-par rounds at tight, testy Mill Creek CC. The other belonged to Jeff Strickland, Mark Strickland’s dad and the 1996 champ, who played the first four holes at 4 under par — including an eagle on No. 3 — and finished with a 1-under 71. He is tied for 11th at 5-over 149.

There has been a changing of the guard in this year’s County Am, with some of the event’s familiar names and usual contenders slumping and being pushed aside by the youngsters. The top six players heading into today’s final round are all college or high school players — Strickland (WWU), Goodwin (WWU), Babcock (Shorewood High School), Pechan (Seattle University), Craig Crawford (tied for fourth, WWU) and Kyle Cornett (tied for fourth, Jackson High School).

First-round leader Luke Bakke of Mill Creek CC started well on Sunday, playing the front nine in 1-under 35 to reach 4 under par, but then struggled on the back nine and finished with a 78, leaving him tied for seventh at 3-over 147.

Also, Bob Whisman’s career record of five County Am victories seems safe for another year. Four-time winner Todd Tibke of Snohomish Golf Course was in contention after a first-round 73, but withdrew after two holes on Sunday due to an ailing back. Alex Stamey of Everett G&CC, another four-time champion, posted a 75 on Sunday and is at 8-over 152, tied for 21st.

The second division (handicaps of 5.0-9.0) and third division (9.1-20.4) played their second rounds at Everett G&CC and will wrap up today at Legion Memorial.

The second-division low-net leader is Mike Lee of Harbour Pointe at 5-under 139, four shots better than Jerry Browning of Everett’s Walter Hall. Third-division leader Ray May of Everett’s Super Range has a 4-under total of 138 and has a four-stroke lead on Bill Steward of the Super Range, 82-year-old Carl Tingelstad of Marysville’s Cedarcrest Golf Course, Dick Ludwig of Lynnwood Golf Course and Matthew Harper of Walter Hall.

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