The vast majority of the Western Amateur field was made up of collegians – incoming freshmen, current players and fresh graduates. Then there’s Garrett Rank, a 31-year-old Canadian who competes in golf in the summer and referees NHL hockey in the winter. Rank is one of the most impressive mid-amateurs in the game, yet his legend grew this week at Point O’Woods Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Mich.
Rank outlasted the kids for a Western Amateur title – a win that’s unheard of for a thirtysomething in today’s amateur climate. In fact, he becomes the first mid-amateur to win this title since 1997.
The foreshadowing came from Rank’s own mouth on Friday evening, after playing his way to the semifinals.
“I’ve been playing a lot of really good golf the last three or four weeks,” he said.
True to his word, Rank started his summer with an 11th-place finish at the Dogwood Invitational. As he accepted his award for low mid-amateur honors, Rank made one thing clear: He still wants to beat the young guys, and he still very much believes he can.
Rank made a remarkable five starts in the seven weeks between the Dogwood and the Western. He finished fifth at last week’s Porter Cup.
Rank’s trip to the final match included head-to-head wins against UCLA’s Hidetoshi Yoshihara, Clemson’s Turk Pettit and Arizona’s David Laskin.
On Saturday afternoon, he took on Ohio State graduate Daniel Wetterich, another player who has shown up week in and week out on the amateur circuit. The two men traded the lead back and forth, with Rank making birdie at the ninth to take a 2-up lead into the back nine. He won by an eventual 3-and-2 margin.
In a Walker Cup year, the only unfortunate part of Rank’s victory is that he can’t be chosen for either team.
Invitational event, known to many as the ‘Masters of Amateur Golf.’ Quite probably the hardest amateur tournament to win.
156 invited players come from across the globe to play one of the toughest formats in amateur golf. The tournament starts with 18 holes of stroke play on Tuesday and Wednesday after which the field is cut to the low 44 scores and ties. Thursday it’s a long day of 36 holes of stroke play to determine the “Sweet Sixteen” who compete at Match Play on Friday and Saturday (two matches each day if you’re going to the finals) to decide the champion.