Banks wins Royal Oaks Invitational in playoff

Portland resident holds off Gonzaga's Johnsen

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

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Final scores

For complete results, visit the Royal Oaks Invitational website at www.roit.org.

photoTravis Johnsen was steady throughout the final round Sunday with two birdies and the rest pars. But he came up one shot short in the playoff against Landon Banks.

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One rarely missed a fairway, green, or putt within five feet. The other thoroughly explored the pros and cons of trying to ricochet the ball off the trees.

One went the entire round — including the playoff hole — without making a bogey. The other bogeyed four holes, including three on the back nine.

One has a golf scholarship to Gonzaga and produced the low score of the day. The other won the tournament.

In a final round that went 19 holes and more than 5 1/2 hours, Landon Banks outlasted Travis Johnsen on Sunday to claim the Royal Oaks Invitational Tournament championship. The 24-year-old's card included a birdie from the sand trap on the par-3 12th and birdies on two of his final three holes.

It was Banks' first tournament win since 2008 and one he confessed came amid a swamp of anxiety. And while the Portland resident's post-round words may not go down in the annals of great speeches, no phrase could have been more telling of his day than when Banks uttered: "I need a drink."

"I didn't make it easy on myself, but I made it fun for the gallery to watch," said Banks, who shot an even-par 72 Sunday and won the 54-hole tournament with a 2-under-par 214. "I haven't had nerves like that in a while."

It seemed unlikely that Banks' playoff foe would be Johnsen considering Jack Dukeminier entered Sunday 4-under-par for the tournament — two strokes better than Banks and four better than Johnsen. And even though there was a point on the back nine in which members of the final foursome were all within one shot of each other, Dukeminier's 77 derailed any hopes he had at winning.

Also in the mix was Brush Prairie resident Gaston De La Torre, the 21-year-old Hockinson graduate who found himself with a one-shot lead after birdieing the 14th hole. However, De La Torre would bogey 15 and 16, hitting the head of his putter after the latter and never again joining the leaders.

"It just wasn't meant to be," said De La Torre, who played his college golf at New Mexico State and said poor late-round putting took him out of contention. "There were just two great competitors out there."

Banks' final shot of his second round was a chip-in from 20 yards off the green that kept him at even par for the day and two back of the lead. But his hole-out from the sand on 12 Sunday was likely more significant since he had bogeyed his previous two holes and was in danger of letting the tournament slip away.

He was still one stroke down heading into the par-4 17th when he stuck a 9-iron from 148 yards away to within five feet of the hole and made birdie. On 18, he hit it just as close from a sand trap 150 yards away — again with a 9 iron — but missed the curling putt to set up a playoff on No. 1 after Johnsen made par.

The result? A 150-yard 9-iron to within 5 feet of the cup, of course. Except this time Banks made it -- then pumped his fist and hugged his mother.

After the loss, Johnsen didn't seem particularly perturbed. He admitted that he thought he would have made more than two birdies, but was pleased with his consistency despite "hitting a lot of mediocre shots."

Banks, on the other hand, was a little more emotional — first taking a moment to collect himself, then saying "it was just a huge sigh of relief."

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or matt.calkins@columbian.com