MUKILTEO — Jacob Rohde was dismayed about the way he left strokes on the course during each of the first two days of the Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament.
That didn’t prevent him from putting himself in the pole position for claiming his second straight championship.
Rohde shot his second consecutive 2-under-par 70, and his 4-under total gave the defending champ a one-stroke lead heading into the final round of the 89th annual Michelob Ultra Snohomish County Amateur.
Rohde, a 41-year-old landscaping project manager from Everett, was 3-under over his final 11 holes during Sunday’s second round at Harbour Pointe Golf Club, overcoming an up-and-down start. He held a one-stroke lead over newcomer Joe Hardy and two-stroke advantage over first-round leader Chris Vargas.
“The last two days have been the same,” Rohde said. “I had two holes on both rounds that I kind of (messed up). I made a couple double (bogeys), I made a couple bogeys on par-5s. If I had just made pars on those, I would have been six shots better.”
Rohde, Hardy and Vargas will comprise the final group in Monday’s final round at Everett Golf and Country Club. They are scheduled to tee off at 12:21 p.m.
Rohde, representing Legion Memorial, finally made his County Am breakthrough last year, winning the title in a runaway after finishing as the runner-up the previous two years. He came into Sunday trailing Vargas by two after giving three shots back over the final three holes in the first round at Walter Hall. On Sunday, he had a double bogey on the par-5 fourth and was 1-over through six, but he managed to right the ship after collecting a birdie on the par-4 eighth.
“I shot what my goal was today,” Rohde said. “My goal was 2-under, so I’m happy I got there. I wish a couple things would have been different, it should have been lower. But it is what it is.
“If I can not make those mistakes like the last two days I think I could play really well,” Rohde added about his chance of repeating. “It really depends on not making those stupid mistakes.”
Hardy is making a big splash in his first County Am. The 36-year-old Seattle resident moved to the area a year and a half ago from New York City and is helping coach boys basketball at Ingraham High School. He came into the second round tied for second at 3-under, and he shot an even-par 72 Sunday to hold his position.
Hardy, a former golf professional who’s playing out of Everett Golf and Country Club, like Rohde had a rocky start to his round as he bogeyed the first two holes. However, he drained a 25-foot-putt to save par on the par-3 seventh, and that sparked a run of birdies on eight and nine that kept him among the leaders.
”I always struggle here, the golf course does not fit my eye,” Hardy said. “I got off to a rough start, bogeyed the first two holes, but I didn’t get impatient. I’ve been working hard on my mental game the last year and a half — it’s always killed me, for a lack of a better word. So I stayed patient, and I knew if I stuck with it, it was going to turn around at some point.”
Vargas, a 29-year-old insurance advisor who resides in Mill Creek, was having a rough round, sitting at 4-over for the day heading into 16. However, he birdied both the par-3 16th and the par-4 17th to pull himself back within reach. He finished with a 2-over 74 Sunday.
“It was a grind, it didn’t come as easy as it did yesterday, I didn’t make quite as many birdies,” said Vargas, who’s playing out of Mill Creek Country Club. “But it was fun, it was good to hang in there, and the two birdies on the last three holes kind of kept me in contention. Hopefully I have a good day tomorrow.”
Three players sit at 1-under and remain in contention, those being Joel Micka, who was in the final group last year, and high school seniors Andrew Martin (Everett) and Alvin Kwak (Kamiak) — Martin rolled in a 15-foot eagle putt on 18 to be a part of the penultimate trio. Every other player is over par for the tournament.
Rohde’s 70 tied for the low round of the day with Jason Calamaro, who was tied for seventh at 2-over, and Eddie Lee, who was tied for 11th at 4-over.