Jesse Heinly made his challenging par putt on the 18th green, shook hands with the rest of the players in his group, then walked off the course, thinking he had a good final round at the 58th Royal Oaks Invitational Tournament.
Nothing special, mind you. Just good.
One of his friends approached him.
“Dude, you’re in contention. You might win this,” the friend said.
“Seriously?” Heinly asked.
About 20 minutes later, Heinly was eating a post-round meal in the Royal Oaks Country Club restaurant.
“My dad texted me,” Heinly said of learning that he won one of the most prestigious amateur golf events in the Northwest. “He was watching the live-scoring from home.”
Heinly fired a 1-over 73 on Sunday to finish the three-day tournament at 2-over with a score of 218 (72-73-73).
And all those who led the tournament before him, all those who had a chance to win this thing, just kept falling backward.
By the time the final group walked down the 18th fairway — with Heinly not watching — only Tye Gabriel had a chance, but he needed to hole out for an eagle. Didn’t happen.
“It’s huge,” said Heinly, who graduated from Summit High School in Bend, Ore., and just finished his senior year at Concordia University in Portland. “It hasn’t quite hit me that I won yet. I didn’t think 2-over was going to win. It’s awesome, though.”
Gabriel, preparing for his senior year at St. Mary’s College in California, and Nick Baines, going into his sophomore year at the University of San Diego, ended up tied for second at 4-over.
Camas High School sophomore Brian Humphreys, a co-leader going into the final round, tied for sixth with Tom Brandes, the other co-leader.
Brandes, 57, has won the past three Washington senior open titles.
“I knew I was going to be nervous,” Humphreys said. “It was a good experience to try handling that. I think I did OK with that on the front nine. I didn’t do too well on the back-nine.”
Humphreys was still tied for the lead after a front-nine 38, but he bogeyed his last four holes on the back-nine to fall out of contention.
Gabriel also had trouble, with bogeys on 16 and 17.
“Kind of disappointed. My driver let me down today,” Gabriel said. “Two really bad tee shots took me out of the tournament.”
Jay Politiek and Denny Taylor tied for fourth at 5-over.
Heinly never thought he was in contention.
But there he was on No. 18, having just hooked his approach barely off the green. A chip and a putt would give him the clubhouse lead. It was a touchy downhill putt, too.
“I was either going to make it there or three-putt,” he said. “Trust your lie and hope it goes in.”
There was no big celebration.
“I didn’t even know what was going on behind me,” said Heinly, who finished second in this tournament last year. “I didn’t think 2-over was going to win. I honestly assumed I was going to lose by three shots.”
Then he had some food, and got a really nice text from his dad.
Jesse Heinly, indeed, won the Royal Oaks Invitational.