Robbie Ziegler's job traveling around the country for Taylor Made continues to keep him away from the golf course more often than he'd like. But it hasn't stopped him from winning tournaments.
After qualifying for the US Amateur for two consecutive years and winning a qualifying tournament last year, the Canby High graduate bested some of the best amateurs in the Pacific Northwest at the Royal Oaks Invitational June 9-11 at Royal Oaks Country Club in Vancouver, Wash.
Ziegler has played in the tournament twice before and says he would go every year if not for conflicts. This year, though, there was an opening in his schedule.
Following a work trip to Kentucky, Ziegler traveled back to the Pacific Northwest in time for a practice round on Thursday, June 8.
Then on Friday, Ziegler shot a 70 and was tied for the lead. And he was three strokes off the lead after posting a 72 in round two.
Ziegler has played at myriad courses across the country but can only think of one other course with narrower fairways than Royal Oaks. In turn, hitting accurate drives was paramount. Ziegler didn't change his game to adjust to the narrowness and still drove consistently straight throughout the week.
"I drove it really well and that was the biggest part of why I played so well. That's the key out there," he said.
Ziegler paired with tournament leader Drew McCullough on the final day of the tournament and trailed him for much of the day.
And heading into the 17th hole down by one stroke, he knew he needed to finish with at least one birdie and no bogeys in the final two holes.
So, on the 17th hole, he nestled a drive in the short rough to the left of the fairway, pinned a wedge shot from 130 yards out 10 feet from the hole and knocked down the putt.
Following all 54 holes, Ziegler, McCullough and Riley Elmes had all accumulated 213 strokes and would play at least one playoff round.
Ziegler then put up four pars in four holes to capture the title. Though his putting was errant at times during the tournament, he knocked down a few pivotal short to medium range par putts in the playoff.
"I made a lot of three to seven footers for par. The putter was key in that playoff," he said.
For Ziegler, playing in the US Amateur is a thrill all to its own, but aside from his success in Amateur qualifiers and going toe-to-toe with Paul Dunne in the 2015 US Amateur, the win was as satisfying as any others.
Ziegler's summer golf season is far from over. He will compete in the US Amateur qualifying tournament and the US Mid-Amateur qualifier as well.
Though he doesn't practice nearly as much as he used to, Ziegler says his mental and emotional maturity has helped him in tournaments. And being able to beat some of the best amateurs in the region without painstaking practice was gratifying as well.
"That's why this tournament meant a lot. I wasn't prepared like I had been in the past. I'm 27, have a pretty good attitude, nothing stresses me out as much as it did. That part of the game mental-wise is better than in years past," Ziegler said.