Elmira’s Garrett Rank became the first Canadian in 42 years to win the Western Amateur tournament, claiming the win at Point O’ Woods Golf and Country Club in Michigan.
With much of his time now taken up as a National Hockey League referee, Rank had been chasing his first major amateur title in nearly five years. With a 3 and 2 victory – three holes ahead with two holes to play (the match ended after No. 16) – over Daniel Wetterich of Cincinnati, Rank earned the George R. Thorne Trophy, a first for a Canadian since Jim Nelford in 1977. Rank is also the first mid-amateur to win since Danny Green in 1997.
“I’m super thrilled, really humbled to win a tournament this prestigious late in my career,” Rank said.
Rank was 1-down after the fifth hole in the final, but took the lead with a birdie on the 7th and gave no room for Wetterich to catch up. The match ended with a final par from Rank on the 16th.
The 31-year-old carded six birdies and won seven holes. Wetterich made four birdies and won four holes.
“With the experiences I’ve had it was kind of my advantage to be an older player and to have been in those situations before I think were vital for me to play well and ultimately be a champion.”
Growing up in Elmira, Rank played hockey and golf, earning scholarships in both sports at the University of Waterloo. He decided to quit hockey and focus on golf in his second year.
In 2012, Rank was the runner-up to Nathan Smith at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and in the same year won the Canadian University College Championship.
“I’m super proud to finally have got it done,” Rank said. “I was playing little three-hole games against myself and that was the recipe to my success – to kind of just stay in the moment and take one shot at a time.
“It’s a huge honour – there are some big names on the trophy. It doesn’t really change my future in golf but it gives me a better ranking and some confidence going into some other tournaments.”
After his win at the 117th Western Amateur, one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, Rank isn’t resting on his laurels, as he will be aiming for another title at the Canadian Mid-Amateur, which runs August 20-23 at The Summit Golf & Country Club in Richmond Hill, Ont.
After that, he’ll be gearing up to return to his job as a NHL referee in September