Pereira Goes Wire to Wire at 22nd Sahalee Players Championship

Corey Pereira takes a swing on day 3 of the 22nd Sahalee Players Championship
Corey Pereira takes a swing on day 3 of the 22nd Sahalee Players Championship.

Corey Pereira of Cameron Park, Calif. held off a late charge in today's final round to win the 22nd Sahalee Players Championship (SPC), held at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash.

Pereira never trailed in the championship, which fielded 66 elite male amateur golfers from around the world, opening with a 7-under par 65 in the first round, building a 6-shot lead after two rounds, and still leading by three after the third round.

This is the third time Pereira has competed in the championship. He tied for second last year. "It's great to come back and finish the job," he said. "I texted this week with Mark (Anguiano, last year's champion), and he gave me some tips on how to play the course."

Pereira, who just finished his sophomore year playing for the University of Washington men's golf team, started the final round with a 3-shot lead over Jonathan Sanders, his team mate on the UW golf team, and Curtis Luck of Australia. Pereira birdied four of the first eight holes, and seemed in complete control.

"I told my friends and family that even though I'd been dominating the tournament, there's always a point where you think you're going to lose it, where you're going to need to grind it out," Pereira said afterward. And he was right. Standing on the tee of the par-4 14th hole with a 4-shot lead, Pereira put his tee shot into a fairway bunker, and when Luck drained a 20-foot birdied putt from the front fringe and Pereira missed his par putt, the lead was cut in half.

On the tight tree-lined par-4 15th hole, Luck hit a 305-yard tee shot into the middle of the fairway, while Pereira pushed his drive into the woods. Luck two-putted for par, and Pereira was facing a 12-foot putt to save bogey. "Yes, if it's ever possible to build momentum by bogeying a hole, that was it," he said. When the putt dropped Pereira pumped his fist and shouted, "Come on!"

Pereira's lead was down to one, but then he birdied the par-4 16th, and when Luck put his tee shot into the water on the par-3 17th it was over. Pereira birdied the par-5 18th, in front of the large gallery, for good measure.

Corey Pereira with the trophy after his 6-shot victory
Corey Pereira with the trophy after his 6-shot victory.

Pereira was ranked No. 38 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) following his sophomore season after which he earned All Pac-12 honors, and is the reigning Pacific Coast Amateur champion. Later this summer he will try to defend his title at the Pacific Coast Amateur as well as at the California State Fair Amateur.

Luck, just 18, was the 2014 Western Australia Amateur champion, and was a semifinalist in the 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur. He ended up tied for third with Owen Taylor of San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Sean Crocker, who will be a sophomore at USC, finished alone in second, six shots behind Pereira.

Visit www.sahaleeplayerschampionship.com for complete final results.

The SPC is one of the events watched by the United States Golf Association when making future selections for the U.S. team in the next Walker Cup.

Past champions of this prestigious amateur championship include Kyle Stanley, Casey Martin, Peter Uihlein, Nick Taylor, Daniel Summerhays, Ryan Moore, Chris Williams, Arron Oberholser and Jason Gore, among others.

Five of the past 11 SPC champions were winners of the Ben Hogan Award, given to the nation's top collegiate golfer. More than a dozen SPC participants have gone on to play on the PGA Tour.

In addition to the annual Sahalee Players Championship, the club has also tested the world's best when it hosted the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, which was won by Bernhard Langer; the 1998 PGA Championship, won by Vijay Singh; the 2002 World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational, won by Craig Parry; and the 1978 Pacific Coast Amateur, won by Mike Gove. In 2016, Sahalee will host the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, a major on the LPGA Tour.