EVERETT — After a tee shot into the adjacent fairway on the second playoff hole, Cody Oakes’ chances of extending the sudden-death playoff appeared slim to none.
But the Arlington senior never wavered.
Oakes saved par with a 20-foot putt to extend the playoff, then outlasted Glacier Peak junior Tyler Spalti on the fifth playoff hole to win the 17th annual Tom Dolan Memorial Invitational in the Monday evening twilight at Everett Golf and Country Club.
“I’ve never been in anything like that,” Oakes said of the five-hole playoff. “The nerves were insane, because I have never been in contention in a tournament this size. It was very nerve-wracking.”
Oakes shot a 2-over-par 74 to finish regulation in a five-way tie for first place with Spalti, Everett junior Andrew Martin, Everett sophomore Austin Duffy and Kevin Li of St. George’s School (British Columbia).
That set up a five-player sudden-death playoff that rotated between the first, 12th and 18th holes. A large contingent of spectators, golfers and coaches followed the remaining competitors throughout the playoff holes as dusk settled over the course.
It was the longest playoff in the history of Snohomish County’s biggest annual prep golf tournament.
“Oh my gosh, that was so nerve-wracking,” Spalti said. “It was amazing, though.”
Li was eliminated after failing to par the first playoff hole, leaving Oakes, Spalti, Martin and Duffy in contention.
Oakes was in serious trouble on the second playoff hole — the course’s par-4 18th hole — after his errant drive veered to the right and into the adjacent fairway. He decided to lay up on his next shot, electing to stay in the adjacent fairway to set up a chip shot.
However, his lay-up shot went about 20 yards farther than planned, leaving him only a small gap between two large trees and the pin.
It proved to be just enough space.
Oakes split the trees, chipping his third shot onto the green to give himself a fighting chance.
He followed by sinking a 20-foot par-saving putt to cap a miraculous recovery.
“I was pretty confident in that putt,” Oakes said. “I didn’t putt well throughout my round today. But standing there, I kind of looked all around it and thought, ‘I can make this. I’ve got the read.’ I was pretty confident in that putt, so it worked out.”
Spalti was inches away from rolling in a winning putt on the second playoff hole, but settled for a tap-in par. Martin and Duffy failed to par the second playoff hole, leaving just Oakes and Spalti in contention.
Oakes and Spalti bogeyed the third playoff hole and parred the fourth to push the tournament to a fifth playoff hole — the course’s par-4 first hole.
Spalti pulled his tee shot into the trees to the left of the fairway and needed four shots to reach the green. Even after he sank a long bogey putt, the door was open for Oakes.
The Arlington standout capitalized with a long fairway drive, followed by an iron shot that found the right portion of the green. Oakes two-putted from there, tapping in for par to win the tournament.
“It’s a pretty big tournament and the past winners are pretty good,” he said. “So to have my name up there is pretty cool. It’s exciting, definitely.”
Spalti birdied four consecutive holes on the back nine to reach 1-over-par before bogeying the final hole of regulation.
“Honestly, I didn’t even think I was going to be close to what the (first-place) score was,” he said. “I was just out there having fun, and then I came in and was tied for first. … I tried my best and came just short (of winning), but I’m happy with it.”
Martin finished in third place, followed by Duffy in fourth and Li in fifth. Kamiak junior and defending tournament champion Alvin Kwak finished one stroke shy of the playoff, placing sixth with a 3-over-par 75.