UNIVERSITY PLACE — Cameron Peck was sure happy he entered the final round of the Washington State Men’s Amateur with an eight-shot lead.
Because when the winds started howling Thursday at Chambers Bay, it became quite a struggle for even the state’s top players.
Peck, who built his lead with back-to-back 69s, shot 6-over 78 Thursday to win the tournament by five shots.
“That was terrible,” said Peck, from Olympia, who just completed a stellar career at Texas A&M. “It was a combination of me and the wind. I didn’t play well, and when the wind is blowing like that and you don’t hit it well, it even makes it harder.”
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But Peck, who won the 2008 United States Junior championship, sprinkled in enough brilliance Thursday that he never had to fret much. He eagled the par-5 fourth hole after opening with three straight bogeys, and made an eagle on the uphill, 304-yard par-4 12th hole. Peck, who eagled that hole for the second straight day, had his drive finish 5 feet to the right of the hole, and he sank the putt.
Peck finished the three-day event at even-par 216. No players broke par Thursday on the course that will host the 2015 U.S. Open. Just 22 of the 61 players who recorded scores Thursday were able to break 80.
“The course will be even faster and firmer then, and if the wind is blowing like this, it is going to be very difficult,” Peck said of possible conditions for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
Washington sophomore-to-be Tyler Salisbury shot a 72 Thursday, the best round of the day, and finished in a tie for eighth.
Nicholaus Mandell of Kennewick and Ryan Earl from Fircrest tied for second. James Feutz of University Place finished fourth, eight shots behind Peck.
Peck said earlier in the week he couldn’t remember winning since taking the U.S. junior championship, but he was a four-time honorable-mention All-American at Texas A&M, where he had 17 top-10 finishes. After his eagle on the fourth hole, it looked like he might have a chance to surpass the 10-stroke victory that Chris Williams, the UW star who just turned pro, had last year.
But Peck played the next five holes in 5 over.
“It was nice that I had that eight-shot lead,” he said.
Peck will continue to play as an amateur this summer, and plans to turn pro at the end of the summer. He would love to come back to Chambers Bay two years from now for an even bigger event.
“That would be great,” he said.
Scott Hanson: 206-464-2943