Hank Frame stumbled only briefly - on one hole - during the four-day run of the 49th Annual Lilac City Invitational golf tournament that concluded last Sunday at The Fairways.
But Frame was quickly able to regain his solid footing – and golf game – and went on to claim a sudden death victory in the second playoff hole over Mike Roters.
Frame, a University High School grad, Washington State University senior and golf team member, sunk a 15-foot putt from the fringe of the green and then watched Clarkston’s Roters miss an 8-footer to decide it. Frame, an amateur, won both the Joe Durgan Memorial Trophy and $500 in pro shop merchandise.
Hank Frame, the winner of the 49th annual Lilac City Invitational, shows off the Joe Durgan Memorial Trophy. Photo by: Paul Delaney
Frame, who shot a 14 under par four-round total of 274 through regulation, became the third amateur to win the Lilac, which was reinstituted for the first time since 2006. Other amateur winners have included Pat Welch in 1968 and Gary Floan, twice the winner in 1971 and 1975.
Roters got the nice payday as the top finishing professional, earning $5,000 first-place money. He too shot 274 and played neck-and-neck with Frame throughout the tournament. He trailed by two strokes after the first day and then by one going into the final round Sunday.
“You know you’re getting the money but at the same time you want to win the tournament,” Roters said.
Jason Humphrey from Coos Bay, Ore., finished third with a four-day total of 275. He held a one-shot lead going into the final hole but a missed putt knocked him out of the lead and a playoff, but he did win $3,000.
Cheney’s Todd Pence shot a 2-under par 70 in his final round and finished fourth with a 283. Pence shot a 5-under 67 Friday.
Frame’s meltdown triple-bogey on the 551-yard par-5 water rimmed 12th came unexpectedly considering how things started.
“I finally hit a perfect drive,” he said. “I hadn’t done that in a couple of weeks.”
But perfection was short-lived.
“I kind of calculated the distance wrong and hit it long right into waist-deep crap,” Frame said. He attempted a chip, realizing later “I should have hit it hard to get it out, take my bogey and run.
“(I) got cute, got it out a couple feet and then missed a chip, missed another chip, hit a putt way too hard, missed a putt and tapped in a two-incher for an eight and at that point I just thought I wanted to scream,” Frame said.
Frame was trying to get a grip back on a tournament he had led through the first three rounds.
To do that he said he had to take a deep breath, “And to calm down before the next shot,” he said.
Roters got a couple of what Frame termed “wayward shots,” which opened the door. “It was a four-shot swing but I was only two back,” Frame said. He picked up one stroke on 15, two more on 16 and another on 17 to tie and ultimately force overtime when each recorded a par on 18.
After each golfer recorded another par on the first playoff hole, Frame’s approach shot on the second was admittedly bad he said.
“I guess I had just a little more adrenalin going and I overcooked it,” he said of his approach. His chip from the fringe started toward the pin but hit short and rolled to the left on the edge of the green.
But his putt was perfect.
“It went right in the heart and that was fun,” Frame said. He then watched as Roters’ putt to tie went just wide, and long.
Roters, a driving range owner, watched as his putting game went away in the final three holes. He missed a shot that would have decided it on 18. Then a 6-footer went true and straight at the cup on the first extra hole, only to rim out.
The fact that Roters even got the opportunity to need that putt to tie seemed unlikely. His drive on the second extra hole landed smack dab in the middle of a right-side bunker. Then his second shot sailed over the green and into the tall grass. His chip was just short of miraculous as the ball dropped eight-feet away from the pin.
“I had a pretty good lie over there so it wasn’t as hard as it seemed,” Roters said.
“I hit a really good shot; and then, you know, you kinda expect Hank to make it but you really don’t think he will,” Roters said. “And then he makes that 15-footer and now you’ve got to make your 8-footer and, you know, it just didn’t go in.”
For Frame his play in overtime surfaced at just the right time.
“It was fun,” Frame said. “I’ve been waiting to be in a moment where, OK, I need to execute and need good shots to win.”
He admitted the putt that won it was a tough one, but Frame said he had a similar shot when he played the hole earlier in the day.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.