VANCOUVER — It took four extra holes to determine a champion Sunday night.
That’s just another hour on one of the finest golf courses in the Northwest at the club’s biggest tournament of the year.
Robbie Ziegler, a former Oregon Duck, outlasted Drew McCullough on the fourth playoff hole to win the 2017 Royal Oaks Invitational Tournament (ROIT), one of the premier amateur events in the region. This tournament started in 1957 and continues to attract some of the best amateurs in the West.
“Everybody does as much as they can to make it a quality event,” said Eric Kastner, the tournament chairman. “It starts with the golf course. It ends with the golf course. The golf course is the crown jewel.”
“This is a very great event in the Pacific Northwest. It means a lot to the Washington and Oregon folks,” Ziegler said.
McCullough, who grew up in Richland and attends the University of Wyoming, and Riley Elmes, who plays for Loyola Marymount University, made the playoff with Ziegler after all three finished the three-day tournament at 3-under par.
Elmes dropped out of the playoff with a bogey on the first extra hole.
Ziegler would sink a testy par putt on the second playoff hole to extend the match, then scrambled from the trees on the third playoff hole to save par and save his tournament.
“I thought I was done,” Ziegler said.
McCullough just missed a long par putt on the fourth playoff hole. Ziegler made his par to earn the trophy.
“I knew (No.) 9 was going to decide it,” Ziegler said of the ninth hole at Royal Oaks, as the playoff participants played No. 1 and No. 9 two times each. “It’s a really tough hole. If I got a par on the ninth, I knew I had a pretty good shot.”
Ziegler rallied from three shots down going into Sunday’s round, recording a 1-under-par 71 to catch McCullough, who was 2-over for the day with a 74. Elmes went low with a 69 to come back from five down to give himself a chance.
Defending champion and local standout Spencer Tibbits tied for best round of the day. The recent graduate of Fort Vancouver High School who will be going to Oregon State in the fall, shot a 68 to get to within one shot of the playoff.
Tibbits played all three rounds with Brian Humphreys, who just finished his freshman season at Boise State after a stellar high school career at Camas. Humphreys tied for ninth.
Both received scholarships to play at Royal Oaks growing up in Clark County.
“I love this tournament. It’s a wonderful tournament,” Tibbits said.
“Royal Oaks Invitational is a huge tournament for me every year,” Humphreys said. “It’s my home course and I practice out here every day. It’s awesome to go and try to play well in front of the members who support you and give us a scholarship.”
Tibbits was trying to become the first defending champion to repeat at the ROIT since 1971. He was the second-youngest to win the title when he claimed victory in 2016.
Expect Tibbits, Humphreys and many more to return next year, as well.
The top amateurs from the Northwest usually put the Royal Oaks Invitational on their calendars.