Pair of golfers shoot for history at County Am

The years pass and the odds grow longer. But if veteran savvy counts for anything — and surely it does — Alex Stamey and Todd Tibke should have enough game to contend in this weekend’s Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament.

And a win by either man would make history.

Stamey and Tibke each have four County Am titles, and a victory by one of them would tie Bob Whisman for the most in tournament history. Whisman, who won County Ams in 1952, 1954, 1955, 1961 and 1964, still shows up every year to keep an eye on the youngsters who are trying to share and perhaps someday usurp his legacy.

And in some cases, those youngsters are men in their late 40s. Stamey, for example, is 49. He was the champion in 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2008, and would dearly love to add No. 5 this year.

“That’s certainly been a huge goal of mine, to try and capture that (fifth victory),” he said. “But as I get older, it’s getting harder and harder against these young kids.”

To win “would be great,” added Stamey, who represents Everett Golf and Country Club. “Mr. Whisman has had the title (as winningest champion) for a long time … and I’d be very proud and certainly very happy to tie his record. Time is ticking, but I still think I have some good golf ahead of me.”

The same goes for the 47-year-old Tibke, who won in 1987 and 1988 before taking six years off to pursue a pro career. He then regained his amateur status and won County Ams in 1999 and 2001.

Winning this year “would be a burden off my chest,” said Tibke, who plays out of Snohomish Golf Course. “I’ve wanted to tie Bob and possibly get ahead of him for a long time. And when I got my amateur status back, that was one of my goals.

“Truthfully, I didn’t think it’d take this long. So it’d be really nice. It’d be nice to prove to yourself that you still have it.”

Of course, winning a County Am championship means topping a field of elite golfers representing men’s clubs from around the county. As always, this year’s entry list is thick with players boasting enviable handicaps.

Among them, four past champions in addition to Stamey (who has a 1.1 handicap) and Tibke (0.0). They are 2010 winner Lance Kilbride of Harbour Pointe Golf Course (1.3), 2009 champion Stephen Lee of Everett G&CC (0.4), 1997 and 1990 winner Mike Seek of Everett G&CC (1.1), and 1996 champ Jeff Strickland of Snohomish (1.2).

The field includes 13 golfers with plus handicaps. They include Robert Kaindl of Harbour Pointe (+3.5), Luke Bakke of Mill Creek Country Club (+2.1), Sean Fitzpatrick of SuperRange (+1.8), Connor Miele of Legion Memorial (+1.7), John Pechan of Harbour Pointe (+1.6), Brandon Agnew of Harbour Pointe (+1.2), Mark Strickland of Harbour Pointe (+0.8), Jack Meehan of Legion Memorial (+0.6), Chris Babcock of Everett G&CC (+0.4), Brian Barhanovich of Everett G&CC (+0.3), Barret McGinnis of Mill Creek CC (+0.2), Anthony Allen of Gleneagle Golf Course (+0.2), and Nick Hardy of Mill Creek CC (+0.1).

One expected contender not in the field is defending champion Dylan Goodwin of Mukilteo, a member of the Western Washington University golf team, who is bypassing this year’s tournament.

With more than 40 competitors having handicaps of 2.0 or better, “this is a very good field,” said tournament director Jason Himple, an assistant pro at Everett G&CC. “There are some young guys, but there are also some past champions that are definitely seasoned. So it’s a very strong field and it’s wide open.”

This year’s tournament will be contested in three divisions based on handicaps. The first division, for golfers with handicaps of 4.9 and better, plays its opening round Saturday at Everett’s Walter Hall Golf Course, moves to Mill Creek CC on Sunday, and plays the traditional final round Monday at Everett G&CC.

The second division, for handicaps of 5.0 to 10.2, and third division, for handicaps of 10.3 to 19.5, plays its first round at Mill Creek CC, its second round at Everett G&CC, and closes at Walter Hall.

A big difference this year is that the entire tournament will be contested in threesomes instead of foursomes. That change was made to improve the pace of play, Himple said.

As always, all rounds of the County Am are open to the public. There is no admission fee.

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