SNOQUALMIE — The two headline-grabbers from last year’s Boeing Classic are back.
All Kevin Sutherland did last year was shoot a course-record 12-under 60 in Saturday’s round at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge.
Then on Sunday, Scott Parel, a Georgian who didn’t play college golf and spent his first 10 years out of college using his computer science degree, came from five strokes back to win. It was his first victory on the PGA Tour Champions.
Parel won because Sutherland returned to earth and shot 71 on Sunday and fellow Saturday co-leader Ken Tanigawa shot 73.
This year’s Boeing Classic, a three-day no-cut event, begins Friday. No one will be surprised if Parel and Sutherland are high on the leaderboard when the final holes are about to be played Sunday.
This year, Sutherland and Parel have faced each other in two playoffs and Sutherland won both of them. One took two days because it got dark after five playoff holes at the Rapiscan Systems Classic in Biloxi, Miss. The next morning, Sutherland won on the second playoff hole of the day. At the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, Sutherland required two playoff holes to prevail.
Sutherland lost a Boeing Classic playoff won by Bernhard Langer in 2016.
Going low is nothing new for Sutherland, a Sacramento native who went from walk-on to All-American at Fresno State. In 2014 in the second round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, Sutherland became the first golfer on the Champions Tour to shoot 59.
“Sometimes, I feel like that stuff just happens,” said Sutherland of his historic rounds. “I don’t necessarily go to the course thinking, ‘Hey, today’s the day that I’m going to shoot 60 or 62.”
Last year, Saturday didn’t start as a course-record day for Sutherland as he was 1-under par after five holes. Then his game ignited and he birdied 11 of the next 13 holes.
“It was a crazy day,” he recalled. “Toward the end of the round I started making a bunch of 15- and 20-footers for birdie, which is always kind of nice.”
But on Sunday’s final round, Sutherland and birdies had a divorce. His only birdie came on the 18th hole.
Parel, who won his second Champions Tour tournament two months after his Boeing breakthrough, calls Sutherland “the most likely guy to shoot low at any point.”
There have been five 62s shot this year on the Champions Tour and Sutherland, who has been called “Mr. Go Low,” has shot two of them.
Parel, 54, is No. 4 on the Champions Tour money list with $1.2 million this year, not bad for someone who came to the over-50 tour with only five PGA Tour starts. Sutherland, 55, whose credentials include 447 PGA Tour starts and one victory, is ninth with $1.1 million.
Being a defending champion on the Champions Tour is a new experience for Parel this week.
“I haven’t had to do this before,” he said, saying he doesn’t feel extra pressure. “Pressure, I think, comes when you don’t have confidence in your game. I feel right now like I’m playing good golf.”
• Boeing Classic director Brian Flajole said the tournament has contracts with Boeing and the Club at Snoqualmie Ridge that extend through the 2021 tournament.
• For the first time, fans will have to go through an airport-type security check to get onto the grounds. It is a new tour-wide policy.
• The plane for this year’s flyover at 11:20 p.m. over the course to start the tournament Friday will be a 787. The flyover by a Boeing plane is a tournament tradition.
• Tour pro Brandt Jobe, who played high-school quarterback in Oklahoma, got to play catch with Russell Wilson when he visited the Seahawks facility Wednesday. In a post-practice annual diversion, two football players joined a Boeing Classic competitor in firing golf balls at a small floating green 110 yards offshore. Jobe hit the green three times out of five shots, long-snapper Tyler Ott hit it twice and place-kicker Jason Myers hit it once.
• Rapper and songwriter Macklemore was scheduled to appear in the Korean Air Pro-Am Thursday but withdrew.
• Defending Boeing champion Scott Parel grew up and still lives in Augusta, Ga. So how often has he played super-exclusive Augusta National? “Four times in my life,” he said. “And I live about a mile and a half from that golf course, so I pretty much drive by the fence at some point when I’m home once a day.”
Parel, who belongs to three golf clubs in the Augusta area, said amateurs in tournament pro-am events ask if it bothers him to have only played Augusta National four times. His answer: “It doesn’t really bother me because I’ve got to play it four times more than most people have.”
• The featured event Thursday is the Sojitz Hall of Fame Shootout, a 9-hole skins game starting on No. 10 at 12:30 p.m., with Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, all members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Mariners manager Scott Servais and “Bachelor” TV star Jason Tartick will be in a foursome that tees off with the Hall of Famers.