EVERETT — As Daniel Kim strode down the 18th fairway at Everett Golf & Country Club on Monday afternoon, clad in full black Washington State University gear, it felt less like the final hole of a golf tournament and more like a coronation march.
This was a royal three-day performance equal to anything accomplished by King Charles III.
Kim finished off a dominating display in style, shooting a final-round 69 to claim the 92nd annual Snohomish County Amateur.
Kim, a Kamiak High School graduate and freshman on the Washington State University men’s golf team who was representing Harbour Pointe Golf Club, finished with a three-round score of 12-under par 203. The 12-under score was the tournament’s lowest since 2010, when detailed records are available, and is believed to be a candidate for lowest score in tournament history. Kim finished the tournament with 17 birdies against just five bogeys.
“This feels amazing,” said Kim, who was last year’s junior champion when he finished seventh overall. “I’ve known about and played in this event since I was 12, so to win is an amazing feeling.
“Out there on the course I was swinging it well and driving it well,” Kim added. “I wasn’t driving it too well coming into the tournament, but that was the calmest I’ve ever been on the course.”
Kim finished four strokes ahead of his fellow WSU freshman, Shorewood High School graduate Ben Borgida who was playing out of Everett Golf & Country Club. Borgida’s 8-under score would have been good enough to win most years. When Kim found the green from the fairway bunker on 18, Borgida could do little more than exclaim, “He’s so good.
“Daniel is a great player, a great putter and great around the greens,” said Borgida, who was never given an opening to try and charge Kim down. “He was able to keep the driver in play and it was really fun to compete against him. He’s a great friend.
“I felt like I played pretty well, I made a lot of putts,” Borgida added. “My driver struggled a little bit, but I was proud of how I played.”
Two-time defending champion Jacob Rohde, representing Legion Memorial Golf Course, used a furious back nine Monday — he was 5-under over a four-hole stretch — to pull into third at 6-under. Rohde’s 4-under 68 was the low round of the day.
Kim ran away with this year’s tournament from start to finish. He shot a 4-under 67 Saturday at Legion Memorial, then shot another 67 Sunday at Walter Hall Golf Course to come into the final round with a three-stroke lead over Borgida at 9-under.
The Cougar teammates squared off in Monday’s final group, as Borgida was the only player within striking distance of Kim. On the front nine Borgida twice recorded birdies to pull within two strokes, but both times Kim responded with a birdie of his own on one of the next two holes to push his lead back to three.
Borgida’s last chance to create a dramatic swing came on the par-4 No. 9, when he drove the green and Kim left himself with a slippery downhill 12-foot birdie putt. But Borgida wasn’t able to make his 18-foot eagle putt, and Kim then had his birdie putt just fall into the hole, and the lead remained three.
“That was for sure important,” Kim said. “I knew he was going to make birdie, and when I hit that putt it didn’t come too well off the face, but it somehow trickled in there.”
Kim built his lead to as many as five strokes on the back before Borgida birdied 18 to make the final margin four. Perhaps the best example of Kim’s confidence came on 17 when, leading by four strokes, he pulled out his driver on the par-4 rather than playing safe. He ended up driving the green and two-putting for his fifth and final birdie of the round.
“Ben is a great player, he’s a teammate and I know what he’s capable of,” Kim said about his approach when coming into the final round with a substantial lead. “So I just wanted to attack and stick to my game plan. Like on 17, I was either iron or driver (off the tee), but the driver felt comfortable, so I stuck to my game and hit a good shot in there.
“It felt so comfortable,” Kim added about being in the final group with Borgida. “I play qualifying and practice rounds with Ben, and I told my family it was just going to feel like a normal event because I’ve been playing with Ben in junior golf and this last year in college. It felt nice having a playing partner who you’re familiar with.”
Mill Creek Country Club’s Johnny Carey, another Kamiak High School graduate and a former WSU Cougar himself, was fourth at 4-under. Mill Creek’s Jordan Brajcich, a Jackson High School graduate and winner of last month’s Washington Champion of Champions tournament, was fifth at 3-under.