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BY MAVERICK PALLACK/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Oregon State golfer completes near-perfect run in match play at Portland Golf Club

COURTESY PHOTO: OREGON GOLF ASSOCIATION - SPENCER TIBBITS, DANIEL SNOEYThe men's final of the 110th Oregon Amateur at Portland Golf Club boiled down to a matchup between two potential first-time winners.

No. 1 seed Spencer Tibbits, the 2018 runner-up who just finished his sophomore year at Oregon State, defeated No. 15 seed Daniel Snoey (ex-University of Portland, Camas, Washington) 8 and 6 to win his first Oregon Am.

Last year's 36-hole final wasn't as kind to Tibbits, as he lost 2 and 1 to Robbie Ziegler (ex-University of Oregon, Canby). This year, Tibbits wanted to avenge the heartbreak from 2018 and not "let another one slip away."

"I put that aside and was able to grind this one out," Tibbits said. "That's what champions are made of. They're able to block out all the bad things and take one shot at a time."

Tibbits, coming off a solid performance at the U.S. Open in which he missed the cut by one shot, entered this week as the favorite. Despite fatigue, he was able to win six matches, trailing for only one hole (he was 1-down to Dustin Laney after four holes of their semifinal).

"I woke up and was like 'I have a chance to win the Oregon Am,'" Tibbits said. "I had a little fatigue but I was able to put that aside and not make many mistakes."

Snoey, a 27-year-old mortgage broker, was able to navigate through a tournament with a lot of current collegiate golfers. He was proud that he "grinded all week."

"I came up against a great dude," Snoey said of Tibbits. "I did everything I said I was going to do. The putter didn't really cooperate [Saturday], but overall it was a great week."

Putting played a huge role in the final. Both players felt they missed some chances with poor putts early, but only Tibbits was able to reverse that into a strength at the end.

The first 18 holes were very close. Snoey birdied the ninth and 10th holes to get even. Tibbits won the next two, though, and was 3-up going into the afternoon round.

With the match 4-up in his favor heading to the 21st hole, the outcome was starting to seem clear, but Tibbits still needed a confidence booster. He got that after putting his ball in a greenside bunker. He got out in perfect position to make a par 4 and go 5-up.

"I felt like I was getting more control of my game," Tibbits said. "When I made that up-and-down, it made me feel like I was back, and I was going to hopefully finish it off."

Tibbits plans to rest the next few days, then play in high-level tournaments such as the July 1-3 Sahalee Players Championship in Sammamish, Wash., the July 23-26 Pacific Coast Amateur in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the July 29-Aug. 3 Western Amateur at Benton Harbor, Michigan, and the Aug. 12-18 U.S. Amateur in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

"Just to get this (championship) under my belt and knowing I can play on low energy is really encouraging," Tibbits said. "I feel like I have gotten stronger mentally this year."

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