Three share title in Grays Harbor Pro-Am tourney

Capping a weekend of prolific scoring, Shane Prante produced one last birdie to complete a title threesome in the Grays Harbor Pro-Am golf tournament.

The Olympia resident with East County family ties birdied his final hole to tie fellow pros Chris Griffin of Tacoma and Brian Nosler of Portland for the championship in the 54th annual Leo Hoder Memorial Grays Harbor Pro-Am on Sunday at Grays Harbor Country Club.

The trio finished with a 36-hole total of seven-under-par 133 to collect $1,383.33 apiece. Griffin carded a 66, Prante a 68 and Nosler a 69 for their final rounds. Since Griffin was a morning starter and had left the course by the time the other two had completed their rounds, there was no playoff.

John Cassidy, an assistant pro at the Alderbrook Golf Club on Hood Canal, finished one stroke back following his second consecutive 67.

Those were among the 19 sub-par rounds — the most in recent memory — recorded over the weekend. A 141 total, which was good enough to win the tournament in 2010, didn’t even cash in the professional classification this year.

The scoring binge was variously attributed to a high-quality field, a relatively benign course setup and the absence of the wind that traditionally plagues afternoon starters.

Tom Hale, Griffin’s invited amateur partner, was low amateur at 145. Dave Achziger, who accompanied Tacoma pro Don Mojean, took amateur net honors at 132.

Highland Golf Course pro Rick Denholm joined with amateurs Chris Hansen, Jim Bravos and Bill Newman to share team honors with the Kevin Bishop-Don Scott-Andrew Pentilla-Steve Natwick foursome. They finished with best-ball totals of 238.

This was Griffin’s fourth Pro-Am title, which matches the tournament record also shared by Keith Liedes and Chuck Milne. Nosler was making only his second tournament appearance and Prante — whose parents, Tim and Jean, are Elma High School graduates — his Pro-Am debut.

Of those, Nosler had the best shot at an undisputed title.

Two strokes off Griffin’s pace with six holes remaining, the long-hitting former Washington and Oregon Open champion pulled even with 12-foot birdie putts on his 13th and 16th holes and saved par from a greenside bunker on the difficult par-3 ninth — his 17th hole in the shotgun start format.

Nosler’s length gave him a definite birdie chance on the par-5 first, his concluding hole of the day. After blasting an enormous drive down the middle, he pulled his second shot into the limb of a tree short and to the left of the green, with the ball kicking back into the fairway.

A nicely executed pitch left Nosler a 6-foot birdie try, but his slightly pushed putt rimmed out.

That left an opening for Prante, playing one hole ahead and finishing about 10 minutes later than Nosler. The 30-year-old former Black Hills High School standout, a three-time All-American at Saint Martin’s University, capitalized by knocking a 60-yard wedge shot stiff to the pin and converting the 18-inch birdie putt.

Prante’s round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole, where he lashed a 5-iron second shot onto the green and holed a 12-foot putt.

Despite his triumph, Prante seemed less than overjoyed with his Pro-Am debut.

“I played pretty solid, I hit a few loose shots,” he said. “Conditions were a little suspect. I hit it good enough to score better, I just didn’t do it. Ultimately, everybody has to play the same course.”

Nosler was even more disappointed, particularly with a slow start to his final round that included two bogeys on his first four holes.

“It was ugly all day,” said the 33-year-old Portland pro, who represents a driving range in Vancouver, Wash. “It’s one of those courses where, if you can get off to a good start, you can freewheel it. When you get if off-line, you can make a double-bogey.”

Griffin, in contrast, played with almost robotic precision Sunday morning. Relatively short but exceptionally straight off the tee, he missed only one fairway yesterday — and wound up birdieing that hole. His round included four birdies and 14 pars.

“I don’t feel like I had too many chances to make bogeys. I couldn’t get many putts to drop,” said the 37-year-old Griffin, who works for a Tacoma outlet of the Pro Golf Discount retail chain. “I drove the ball pretty well. That’s what you’ve got to do out here. You’ve got to drive the ball good and hit good wedges.”

Also finishing on the first hole, Griffin birdied it with a chip and a 2-foot putt. That eliminated the unheralded Cassidy, who also played in the morning, from title contention.

A Yelm High School graduate who spent four years on the Canadian Tour, Cassidy was entering his first tournament in more than a year as he is attempting to transition into a new career as a teaching professional.

Final standings:

Professionals: Chris Griffin 133, Shane Prante 133, Brian Nosler 133, John Cassidy 134, Kris Swanson 137, Tom Sovay 137, Travis Paul 137, Ronnie Espedal 139, Tom Staskus 139.

Amateurs, Gross: Tom Hale 145, Don Scott 147, Chris Hansen 148, Jake Logsden 151, Justin Goar 152, Rick Thornton 152, Kalib Knutson 152.

Amateurs, Net: Dave Achziger 132, Ron Makos 133, Mike Sand 134, Bryan Dierick 134, Ron Martinez 135, Tom LaCasse 135, George Adams 139, Steve Natwick 139, Don Shelton 139.

Team: Rick Denholm-Chris Hansen-Jim Bravos-Bill Newman 238, Kevin Bishop-Don Scott-Steve Natwick-Andrew Penttila 238, Jerry Johnson-Josh Wood-Mike Sand-Bryan Dierick 240, Tom Sovay-Mike Robb-Jim Jacka-Todd Lindley 241, Travis Paul-Tim Hughes-George Adams-Tandy Alexander 243, Brian Davis-Richard Pasalich-Tom Cosper-Mike Hermsen 244, Kris Swanson-Jake Logsdon-Tom Isaacson-Tom LaCasse 244.