Highsmith goes wire-to-wire to win Sahalee Players Championship

Highsmith goes wire-to-wire to win Sahalee Players Championship

Joe Highsmith of Lakewood, Wash. shot rounds of 70-68-69-74 to win the 25th Sahalee Players Championship, held this week at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash. His 7-under-par total of 281 was two shots better than second-place finisher Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills, Calif.

Click here for complete final scoring, and here for information about the championship.

Highsmith and Theegala were the only two players in the field of 64 elite international amateurs to finish the championship under par, and early in today’s final round made it a two-man race for the title. Paired together in the final group, Highsmith started the day with a two-shot lead over Theegala, but after the sixth hole Theegala had pulled even.

The swing hole of the championship was the 544-yard par-5 11th hole. Highsmith put his second shot to 18 feet, and Theegala, after a 340-yard drive, put his second shot in the right greenside bunker. Highsmith would two-putt for birdie, while Theegala blasted out of the bunker but then three-putted for bogey, making for a two-shot swing.

Highsmith just finished his freshman year at Pepperdine University, where he earned the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year honors and was named to the All-WCC First Team. He won the 2017 Washington State Amateur, the youngest player to do so, and is a two-time WSGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year and also was named the 2017 PNGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year.

Highsmith and Theegala are teammates on the Pepperdine University men’s golf team. Theegala won the 2017 Sahalee Players Championship.

“Yeah, some bogeys are definitely better than others,” Highsmith said afterward. “The 12th hole was big. Saving bogey on that hole gave me somewhat of a buffer to make a strong finish.” On that par-4 12th hole, the left-handed Highsmith had pushed his second shot into the brush, and after an all-gallery search for the ball, it was found embedded in the soft soil. He was granted a free drop, but then proceeded to chip his third shot into the greenside bunker. He blasted out, and sunk the 12-footer to save a bogey.

“I had a hot putter going all week,” he said. “Typically my game is the opposite. I’ll hit the ball really well, but then do nothing on the greens. But this week was really average ball-striking, and fortunately had the putter going well. I made a bunch of five-to-10 foot par saves, which was the difference.”

Click here for Highsmith’s post-championship interview.

Highsmith now adds his name to a long list of winners of this prestigious championship, including Ryan Moore, Kyle Stanley, Casey Martin, Jason Gore, Daniel Summerhays, among many others.

Since its founding in 1992, Sahalee Country Club has worked closely with the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) to establish the SPC as a premier national event, according to Troy Andrew, CEO and executive director of the PNGA. The PNGA continues to administer the championship, led by PNGA Asst. Director of Rules and Competition Nate Schroeder.

“The vision was to keep our top-ranked amateurs in the Pacific Northwest from having to always go back East to get national attention for Walker Cup or international team consideration,” Andrew says. “It worked. The Sahalee Players Championship is now recognized as one of the premier amateur championships in the world because of the strong field it continues to attract.”

Beginning in 2000, the SPC and PNGA have hosted major amateur championships in back to back weeks at the beginning of July. Since its inception in 1899, the Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur Championship has developed a long and illustrious history as one of the top amateur competitions in the country. Played in the same format as the U.S. Amateur, the 118th PNGA Men’s Amateur will be held at Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Lakewood, Wash. on July 8-13, 2019. The assisting stroke-play course for the championship will be Chambers Bay, site of the 2010 U.S. Amateur and 2015 U.S. Open. Past champions include Zac Blair (2011), Nick Flanagan (2003), Ben Crane (1997), Jeff Quinney (2000) and Tiger woods (1994). Visit www.thepnga.org or click here for more information.

Next week, Highsmith will compete in the Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur, with Tacoma Country & Golf Club being his home course.

The Sahalee Players Championship was created by a dedicated group of members striving to bring major championships and the top professional and amateur players in the game to the club. That vision has been more than realized. Sahalee has hosted three professional majors: the 1998 PGA Championship, 2010 U.S. Senior Open, and the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship; as well as the 2002 WGC-NEC Invitational. The Sahalee Players Championship has been conducted at Sahalee since 1992, and other elite amateur championships held at Sahalee include the 1974 PNGA Men’s Amateur and 1978 Pacific Coast Amateur.

25th Sahalee Players Championship

Sahalee Country Club

Sammamish, Wash.

6982 yards, Par 72

Highsmith still on top at Sahalee Players Championship

Highsmith still on top at Sahalee Players Championship

By Josh Kerns, contributing writer

Joe Highsmith of Lakewood, Wash. shot 3-under-par 69 in today’s third round to maintain his lead at the 25th Sahalee Players Championship.

The former PNGA and WSGA Player of the Year is the only player in the elite field of 64 international amateur players to shoot all three of the first rounds under par.

The championship, being held at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., will conduct the fourth and final round tomorrow, July 3, with the first tee times at 8:00am. The leaders will tee off at 9:40am.

Click here for pairings and to follow along with live scoring.

Highsmith, with a three-day total of 9-under par, threatened to run away from the field, but the Pepperdine University freshman saw his close friend and Pepperdine teammate Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills, Calif. make a charge of his own. Paired together in today’s third round, Theegala birdied his final four holes of the day to pull within two shots of Highsmith.

The two players matched shot for shot coming down the stretch, reaching a crescendo on the Par 3 17th when both of the Pepperdine standouts stuffed their approach shots to within five feet. After Highsmith rolled in his birdie putt, Theegala – the 2017 Sahalee Players Championship winner – countered with one of his own. The teammates would again match birdies on the par 5-18th to cap a third round that left the pair the only two under par as Monday’s sun was replaced with cool temperatures and intermittent showers that softened a course that pummeled many players during the opening two rounds.

“I just figured we’d go out and have a good time,” Theegala said. “We rolled off of each other, and figured we’d get something going at some point, and we had a good day.”

Said Highsmith, “If the weather conditions stay cool and damp tomorrow, I know I’m going to have to continue to be aggressive on the course.”

The two are close to turning this into a two-man race. There are six players tied for third place, a full eight shots behind Theegala, and 10 shots back of Highsmith.

Click here to watch post-round interview with the two players and SPC Tournament Chairman Kevin White.

In tomorrow’s final round, it will be an all-Pepperdine final group, as Highsmith and Theegala will be joined by Pepperdine teammate Derek Hitchner, who climbed the leaderboard with a sterling 5-under par 67 that included back to back birdies on holes 17 and 18. Hitchner is tied for third place at 1-over for the championship with a star-studded lineup of top amateur talent including last year’s champion Cole Madey of West Linn, Ore.; Canadian National Team member Chris Crisologo; Auburn senior Jacob Solomon; Arizona State star Mason Andersen; and Oregon State standout Spencer Tibbits, who gained national attention this summer after qualifying for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

The Sahalee Players Championship is free and open to the public. Free parking is available.

Highsmith takes lead at midpoint of 25th Sahalee Players Championship

Highsmith takes lead at midpoint of 25th Sahalee Players Championship

Former PNGA and WSGA Player of the Year Joe Highsmith of Lakewood, Wash. shot rounds of 70-68 to take a two-stroke lead after two rounds at the 25th Sahalee Players Championship at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash.

With the elite field of 64 of the best amateur players from around the world playing 36 holes in the opening day of the 72-hole championship, Highsmith poured in 11 birdies on the day, and holds a two-shot lead over Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills, Calif., who had shot rounds of 72-68.

“I kind of got off to a slow start,” Highsmith said. “But I was putting really well all day. I made some good par saves early in the first nine of this morning’s round, and that settled me down. I didn’t do anything really stupid the rest of the day. The greens were very hard, and you couldn’t really go at any of the pins, just playing for the fat part of the greens instead.”

Click here to watch Highsmith’s post-round interview with SPC Tournament Director Kevin White.

Highsmith just finished his freshman year at Pepperdine University, where he earned the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year honors and was named to the All-WCC First Team. He won the 2017 Washington State Amateur, the youngest player to do so, and is a two-time WSGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year and also was named the 2017 PNGA Junior Boys Player of the Year.

Theegala is looking for a second title in this championship, having won in 2017. He just finished his senior year at Pepperdine, and will be paired with teammate Highsmith in today’s third round.

Chris Crisologo of Richmond, B.C. was the only other player in the field in the red for the day, firing rounds of 70-71. Crisologo is a member of the Canadian National Team, and in 2018 was named the PNGA Player of the Year after winning the BC Amateur and South American Amateur.

The third round of the championship resumes Tuesday morning at 11:00am, with the final round being held Wednesday with tee times starting at 8:00am.

Click here for live scoring and pairings.

The Sahalee Players Championship is free and open to the public, with free parking in the main clubhouse parking lot.  For more information, contact Josh Kerns@golftalkseattle.com or 206-920-1482.