KENT, Wash. — It goes without saying that a golf stroke on the first day counts as much as a stroke on the last, so in a tournament lost by one shot it’s not all about a missed two-foot par putt on No. 16.
John Cassidy is not big on excuses, so, okay, it’s not even about a woman in the gallery sneezing just when a guy is starting his attempt at the two-footer.
Are you freaking kidding me?
“It’s one of those things,” Cassidy said. “I should have better focus in that moment. That’s why I’m not going to say she cost me the golf tournament.
“I threw away a whole bunch of golf shots in three days.”
Cassidy missed, Ryan Benzel made birdie, and suddenly Cassidy was two down with two to play.
He was far from done. When Cassidy made a clutch birdie on 17, and Benzel, his chief competitor in the final group, made bogey, the two were tied at even par for the day, three under for the tournament, heading to 18.
Benzel, a 39-year-old pro from Sahalee Country Club, made par on 18, enough to edge out Cassidy and two others to win the Washington Open Invitational today at Meridian Valley Country Club.
Cassidy missed a putt on 18 that would have forced a playoff after a chip from a bad lie and an awkward stance skidded eight feet by the hole. He tied for second with Shane Prante, the first-day leader, and amateur David Ganz of Gonzaga University.
“It’s pretty bittersweet at the moment,” Cassidy said afterward.
Cassidy, known in this corner of Grey Goatee Nation as the teacher of record, now works his trade at Arrowhead Golf Club in Molalla, Ore. He said he came into the Washington Open — a tournament he won in 2014 — feeling uncomfortable with his game and his new Callaway balls and clubs. It showed on Monday in a two-over 74, seven shots behind Prante’s 67.
“The fact that I can come into a tournament not feeling good, and still finish second,” he said, “that says a lot about my ability to manage things, kind of to do the best I can with what I have.”
There are other positives for Cassidy: A tidy $4,650 second-place check, which is nothing to sneeze at, and a shot of confidence heading into a summer tournament schedule that includes the PGA Professional Championship (for club pros) June 17-20 at Bayonet and Black Horse on the Monterey Peninsula.
“I know what I need to work on,” he said, “to get things rolling.”
On Tuesday, Cassidy shot 67 while Prante had the 74. Besides a shared history in Washington amateur golf that goes back decades, the two share ties in the professional golf instruction world. It was Prante who replaced Cassidy as the lead teaching pro at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., when Cassidy left for Oregon.