20th Sahalee Players Championship Tees Off Monday

An impressive field of amateur players teed off Monday at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash. for the 20th Sahalee Players Championship. The championship will be contested over 72 holes of stroke play, with 36 holes the first day, 18 the second, and 18 on the third and final day.

Last year's event saw a three-way one-hole playoff , with winner Kevin Penner edging Chris Williams and Ben Geyer to claim the title. Penner, a native of Sammamish, recently graduated from UNLV and has turned professional. Williams, of Moscow, Idaho, competed in the U.S. Open a few weeks ago at Merion Golf Club and turned professional immediately afterward. Williams graduated this spring from the University of Washington and was the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world when he ended his amateur playing career. Geyer, a senior at Saint Mary's College in California, is the West Coast Conference Co-Player of the Year, and returns this year to the SPC for another attempt at the title.

This year's field consists of 66 of the top amateur golfers from around the world. Among the competitors are 2011 runner-up Zac Blair of Ogden, Utah; David Fink the reigning Pacific Coast Amateur champion from Honolulu, who just completed his junior year at Oregon State; Nick Chianello of Gresham, Ore., another Oregon State player who last week won his second consecutive Oregon Amateur title; Shotaro Ban, the reigning Pacific Northwest Amateur champion and a Cal freshman; Andrew Yun, a senior from Stanford and 2012 Pac-12 individual champion; Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., recipient of the Phil Mickelson Award as the most outstanding freshman in NCAA Division II men's golf; Cameron Peck of Olympia, Wash., who won the 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur, and two weeks ago won the Washington State Amateur; Taeksoo Kim, a senior at Boise State and reigning Idaho State Amateur champion; and Brady Watt of Australia, currently the No. 3-ranked amateur in the world. Both Blair and Yun were Walker Cup practice-session invitees this year.

Past champions of the championship include Kyle Stanley, Casey Martin, Peter Uihlein, Nick Taylor, Daniel Summerhays, Ryan Moore, Chris Williams, Arron Oberholser and Jason Gore, among others.

Along with Watt, other strong international contenders include Jordan Zunic of Australia, winner of this year's Tasmanian Open; Blair Riordan of New Zealand; Compton Pikari, also of New Zealand; Callan O'Reilly of Australia; Joshua Munn of Australia; Cameron Jones, the reigning New Zealand Stroke Play champion; Eric Banks of Novia Scotia, who underwent heart surgery last year and was subsequently named Comeback Athlete of the Year at the University of Florida; James Gibellini of Australia; Chris Hemmerich of Ontario; Charlie Hughes of Burnaby, B.C., a senior at the University of Washington and a finalist for the Byron Nelson Award; and 2010 Pacific Northwest Amateur champion, Brett Drewitt of Inverell, Australia.

When asked about the championship, tournament director Mike Jonson said, "The Sahalee Players Championship provides the Northwest with the opportunity each year to witness the performance of some of the world's finest amateur players."

This year will mark the 20th installment of the Sahalee Players Championship. After a brief stop at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash. in 2010 while Sahalee Country Club hosted the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the SPC returned to Sahalee. In addition to the U.S. Senior Open, won by Bernhard Langer, Sahalee hosted the 1998 PGA Championship, won by Vijay Singh, and the 2002 World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational, won by Craig Parry.

The Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) partnered with Sahalee Country Club 14 years ago to create the "Western Swing." The Sahalee Players Championship is the first leg of the swing, with the Pacific Northwest Men's Amateur played the following week. The two championships combined with a primary goal of providing amateur golfers in the West an opportunity to play two major national amateur championships without having to travel to the East Coast. This year will mark the 112th Pacific Northwest Men's Amateur Championship, and will be held July 6-11 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon.

For more information about the Sahalee Players Championship, including first-round pairings and live scoring, visit www.sahaleeplayerschampionship.com.