Laurent Desmarchais wins PNGA Men’s Amateur
Lakewood, Wash. – Team Canada National Junior Squad member Laurent Desmarchais (Longueuil, Québec) defeated Josh McCollum of Upland, Calif. 3&2 in the final match to win the 118th Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur Championship, held this week at Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Lakewood, Wash.
After starting with 168 players in stroke-play qualifying, split between Tacoma and nearby Chambers Bay, the championship came down to the final match between McCollum and Desmarchais, both of whom survived five matches to reach today’s final match.
Desmarchais threatened to make short work of the scheduled 36-hole final match. McCollum had difficulty off the tee immediately, and Desmarchais took advantage, going 5-up after nine holes and 8-up after 18 holes. During the lunch break, it seemed the match would be over soon.
But McCollum, a recent graduate of Chico State in California, got control of his driver, and gradually worked himself back into the match. After 27 holes, Desmarchais’ lead was just 5-up. Then McCollum birdied the 28th hole, and was just 4-down.
After the 25th hole, no hole was halved until the 34th and final hole.
Then Desmarchais made the putt of the championship. On the par-5 11th hole, he sprayed his second shot against the fence on the right, two feet from being out of bounds. From there he chipped over the green, 12 feet onto the fringe, and faced a 40-foot, downhill, side-hill putt on a green that was rolling 14 on the Stimpmeter. When he drained the putt, increasing his lead to 5-up with seven to play, it looked pretty much over.
Then it was 5-up with five holes to play. But McCollum still didn’t give up. He birdied 14, then stuffed a 9-iron on the par-3 15th to five feet for another birdied that was accentuated by a fist-pump.
On the 16th hole, a par-5, McCollum had just 163 yards left for his second shot, and he hit a wedge to 12 feet. When Desmarchais 2-putted for birdie, McCollum’s attempt at eagle slid by the hole, and the match went to Desmarchais.
“Josh wasn’t playing too well this morning, so I was able to take advantage of some of that,” Desmarchais said. “I kind of let it go in the second round, and he started to make some putts, and kept pushing me out there. He was making birdies, and good on him for doing that. He grabbed the momentum around the 26th hole or so, but I felt at that point all I had to do was make the shots because the pressure was on him. Just make pars, and then he would have to make birdies. This feels really great.”
McCollum said he found out about the Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur from a teammate at Chico State who is from Idaho. “I knew it always has a strong field, and I try to find events where I can compete against the best.”
Laurent just turned 18, and at 6-foot-5, he is long off the tee. He is a member of the Canadian National Junior Team. He spent four months this spring at the Golf Canada National Development Centre at Bear Mountain Resort outside Victoria, B.C. on Vancouver Island. “That’s when I found out about this championship,” Desmarchais said. “My coach told me about it, and that I should play in it.”
Desmarchais had played last week in the Sahalee Players Championship, where he tied for 41st, as the first leg of the Western Swing, and this week played the second leg. His coach on the Canadian National Junior Team, Robert Ratcliffe, caddied for Desmarchais at Sahalee, but went back to Victoria afterward. Desmarchais told Ratcliffe that if he made it to the final match this week, Ratcliffe would have to return to caddie for him. This morning on the first tee, Ratcliffe was on the bag, standing side by side with Desmarchais.
Desmarchais has committed to play for the University of Tennessee, but will not begin there until 2021. Until then, he will continue to play on the Canadian Junior National Team. Next week he will compete in the Pacific Coast Amateur, held at the Championship Course at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
One of the oldest amateur golf championships in the world, Desmarchais’ name now goes on the Macan Cup, which is named after legendary golf course designer A.V. Macan, a member of the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame and winner of this championship in 1913.
Past champions include names such as Tiger Woods, Jeff Quinney, Ben Crane, Jeff Coston, Nick Flanagan, Jim McLean and Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Famers Chandler Egan, Harry Givan, Jack Westland, Bud Ward and George Holland, among many others.
Full results can be found here.