Surprise winner headlines Husky Invitational

University of Washington junior Chris Killmer, 21, holds the trophy after winning the Husky Invitational on Tuesday. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
University of Washington junior Chris Killmer, 21, holds the trophy after winning the Husky Invitational on Tuesday.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

UW junior Killmer captures championship after year away.

The University of Wash-ington’s men’s golf team title at the annual Husky Invitational didn’t come as a surprise to anyone within the program.

After all, coach Matt Thurmond considers the group experienced and talented.

Junior Chris Killmer fits both those traits, but came away as the surprise champion of the two-day event Tuesday at Gold Mountain Golf Club, securing his first Division I victory with a combined score of 211 (70-69-72). Killmer said he rejoined the program two weeks ago after taking a year off.

He said he stored his golf clubs at his parents’ home in Bellingham and didn’t play during that time. Killmer, a business-marketing major, said he worked in retail and as a nanny before he took a job at a Seattle-area golf course.

“At about the time I started working at the golf course, I decided it might be fun to hit a couple of golf balls,” he said, adding that was about three months ago. “Some of my family members came to town, I played them, and played pretty well. I figured if all else failed, I could play for fun and not take it so seriously.”

Killmer, 21, transferred to UW after playing his freshman year in fall 2005 at Cal State Bakersfield, where he was a third-team All-American and won the Phil Mickleson Freshman of the Year award. But that was at the Division II level, and Killmer said he left because he wanted to play in postseason tournaments and championships that weren’t available in that classification.

After the 2006 season at UW, he left the sport, frustrated not with the opportunities, but his own play.

“I was frustrated with my own game,” Killmer said. “I didn’t think I would ever play well enough to play at a different level. I put all of my efforts into school.”

Thurmond said he never had any doubts about Killmer’s talent and let him know he was welcome back. To return to the program, Killmer had to beat other walk-on hopefuls in a preseason tryout.

“When he left, I didn’t ever expect him back,” Thurmond said. “At the same time, I said we would love to have him back and that the door always was open. He worked his way back.”

Killmer has played Gold Mountain in the past, but said the number of teams participating left the course, particularly the greens, rough.

“Short putts became a really big struggle,” he said. “The course as a whole was very challenging. It just came down to putting.”

Killmer led after the first day and didn’t let up any Tuesday. He follows Gordy Scutt (2001), Brock Mackenzie (2003) and John Wise (2006) as tournament winners from UW.

“To have him play so well, so soon is really amazing to us,” Thurmond said. “I think maybe taking a year off settled his mind a little bit and helped him when he had the lead and was under pressure.”

Killmer was one of four Huskies to place in the top 10. Richard Lee and Jens Bracht tied for third at 216, while Nick Taylor tied for seventh at 217.

Washington won the event with a team score of 857, followed by California (870), San Diego State (879), Brigham Young (885), Oregon (887), University of the Pacific (890), Washington State (892), Oregon State (894), the University of California, Davis (899), Idaho (904) and Portland (914).

“I think this isn’t the only time we’re going to win this year,” Killmer said. “I think it was a very good tune-up tournament.”

Killmer just hopes he showed teammates that he can be part of a successful team.

“I kind of left these guys last year without any notice,” he said. “I felt like this whole tournament was kind of about gaining their trust back and knowing that they can count on me to play well. I was trying to play for them, and hopefully they can count on me to play well.”

Team results

Washington 857, California 870, San Diego State 879, Brigham Young 885, Oregon 887, Pacific 890, Washington State 892, Oregon State 894, UC Davis 899, Idaho 904, Portland 914.

Individual results

Chris Killmer (UW) 211, Johan Carlsson (SDSU) 214, Andrew Cooley (SDSU) 216, Richard Lee (UW) 216, Jens Bracht (UW) 216, Robbie Fillmore (BYU) 216, Eric Mina (Cal) 217, Nick Taylor (UW) 217, John Murphy (Cal) 217, Michael Jensen (Cal) 217, T.J. Bordeaux (Pacific) 218, Charles Van Sicklen (Pacific) 219, Jack Dukeminier (Ore) 220, Austin Graham (UCD) 221, Isaiah Telles (Ore) 222, Diego Velasquez (OSU) 222, Kent Tamane (Cal) 222, Austin Hurt (WSU) 222, Tze Huang Choo (UW) 223, Alex Williams (OSU) 223, Matt Hoffenberg (SDSU) 223, Robbie Ziegler (Ore) 224, Alex Johnson (Pacific) 224, Sam Kloenne (Portland) 224, Paul Peterson (OSU) 224, Brady Johnson (BYU) 224, Sterling Clark (BYU) 224, Kevin Spooner (UW) 225, Jordan Rodgers (BYU) 225, Kevin Tucker (WSU) 225, Esteban Calisto (BYU) 226, Alex Kang (SDSU) 226, Jarred Bossio (Idaho) 226, Ty Chambers (UW) 227, Alex Moore (OSU) 227, Dylan Goodwin (UW) 227, Justin Smithhisler (Portland) 227, David Palm (SDSU) 227, Russell Grove (Idaho) 227, Evan Derian (Cal) 228, Nate Pistacchio (UCD) 228, Daniel Miernicki (Ore) 228, Ramie Sprinkling (UCD) 228, Eugene Wong (Ore) 228, Darren Wallace (UW) 228, Stephen Hale (Cal) 228, Nick Ellis (WSU) 228, Nick Grigsby (WSU) 228, Brent Booth (UCD) 229, Tyler Raber (UCD) 229, Nick Killpack (BYU) 229, Jonnie Motomochi (OSU) 230, Trent Sanders (WSU) 230, Brad Tensen (Idaho) 230, John Wise (UW) 231, Chris Cho (Idaho) 231, Terence Macatangay (Portland) 233, Alex Grieb (Pacific) 233, Thomas Robertson (Portland) 234, Jake Wagner (Portland) 234, David Nuhn (Idaho) 234, Patrick Kucich (Pacific) 237, Tyler Simpson (OSU) 238, Stephen Archibald (BYU) 240, Sean Maekawa (OSU) 246.

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