By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
EVERETT — Mark Strickland played well enough to win the Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament on Monday afternoon, but teammate, roommate and friend Dylan Goodwin simply played better down the stretch.
The two Kamiak High School graduates, both members of the Western Washington University men’s golf team, waged a back-and-forth tussle over the final 18 holes of the 82nd-annual County Am at Everett Golf and Country Club. Co-leaders to start the day and never separated by more than a stroke until the final hole, they shared and swapped leads until Strickland’s three-putt bogey on the par-3 15th hole allowed Goodwin to go on top to stay.
Still leading by one shot on the 18th tee, Goodwin blasted a drive down the middle, dropped his approach on the front fringe, gently stroked a tricky downhill putt to 2 feet and tapped in for the victory, which he celebrated with a brief but joyful pump of his fist.
“Winning this tournament is huge,” said a grinning Goodwin afterward. “I really love this tournament. It’s fun to be home (from school), and to have all my friends and family here watching. It’s a great feeling.”
Goodwin, who represents Mukilteo’s Harbour Pointe Golf Course, ended up with a 3-under-par round of 69 and a three-day total of 4-under 212. Strickland, also from Harbour Pointe, shot a 1-under 71 and finished second at 2-under 214.
Third place went to Kyle Cornett of Everett G&CC, the Class 4A high school state champion from Jackson, who closed with a 70 and finished at even-par 216.
Goodwin’s victory makes it two in a row for former Kamiak golfers. Goodwin, a 2008 graduate, follows Reid Martin, a 2009 alum, who claimed a seven-shot victory a year ago over, ironically, Goodwin. Martin missed this year’s tournament because he is taking a summer class needed for graduation at the University of Central Florida.
“I’d like to thank Reid for not being here this year because he demolished me last year,” the 22-year-old Goodwin said with a chuckle.
Goodwin’s day began with back-to-back bogeys which left him briefly in third place, one stroke behind Strickland and playing partner Chris Babcock of Everett G&CC, a member of the Shorewood High School golf team. But Goodwin promptly found his groove with a long birdie putt on the par-4 third hole, a par on the difficult downhill par-4 fourth hole, another birdie on the tough uphill par-4 fifth hole, and yet another birdie on the par-5 sixth hole.
Still, Strickland was keeping pace and trailed by just a stroke at the turn. Strickland pulled into a tie with a birdie on No. 10, though Goodwin regained his lead on the next hole with a booming drive and an approach to 3 feet for his fourth birdie of the day.
After both players birdied the par-5 13th hole, Strickland drew into another tie with a birdie on the short par-5 14th hole. Goodwin settled for “a costly par” after landing his second shot in a greenside bunker and failing to get up and down.
But when Strickland three-putted No. 15, the door was open for Goodwin to win with a string of pars over the final three holes.
The key to his round, Goodwin said, was keeping a positive outlook after the two early bogeys. And he gave some credit for that to his caddy Kara Zitzman, who is also his girlfriend and a member of the WWU women’s golf team.
“Of the two of us,” he said, “she’s definitely the positive one. She kept my head in it. … Usually I get pretty down on myself really quickly, so on other days it would have been a lot harder for me. But today, I don’t know why, I was pretty calm.”
Strickland, meanwhile, was in the tournament until the final hole. On No. 18 he sailed a sand shot across the green and two-putted for a round-ending bogey, though his 71 still tied for the third-best score of the day.
“I played solid,” he said wistfully. “I just didn’t play as well as Dylan.”
Certainly his most disappointing hole was the 15th, an uphill par-3. His tee shot landed on the far side of the green from the flag and his long putt broke sharply right, ending up 15 feet below the hole. He missed that putt, too, leaving him one stroke off the lead heading to No. 16.
It was a deficit he could never make up.
“There’s a lot of disappointment,” admitted the 20-year-old Strickland. But given his friendship with Goodwin, “I’d rather lose to him than anybody else.”
The two spoke only sparingly during the round, “but it’s not like we were against each other,” Strickland said. “We’d talk here and there, but mostly we were focused on what we were doing.”
The second division (for handicaps of 5.0-9.0) and third division (9.1-20.4) played their final rounds at Everett’s Legion Memorial Golf Course.
Sharing first place in the second division low-net competition were John Grandemange of Harbour Pointe and Steve Wanaka from Everett G&CC, both with 4-under 212s. The third division low-net winner was Ray May from Everett’s Super Range, who had a 12-under 204, two shots better than Dick Ludwig from Lynnwood Golf Course.