Cameron Kahle Wins State Title in Storybook Finish

Whitefish junior closed final round birdie-eagle to pull into a tie, won tournament on third playoff hole

By Andy Viano
Whitefish junior Cameron Kahle pumps his fist after draining an eagle putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff at the Class A state tournament at Laurel Golf Club on Oct. 4, 2019. Kahle won the tournament on the third playoff hole. Courtesy photo

The best ending to a golf tournament Bill Kahle ever saw was in the 1986 Masters, when Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine to complete one of the more memorable comebacks in professional golf history and win the last of 18 career majors. That was before last week.

Now that honor belongs to his son, Cameron, who birdied the 17th hole, drained a 20-foot putt for eagle on 18 to force a playoff, and won the Class A state championship on the third playoff hole at Laurel Country Club on Friday, Oct. 4.

“It was breathtaking,” Bill Kahle, who is also the Whitefish golf coach, said. “It was remarkable; better than I could have imagined. I would never have dared to think that.”

Cameron Kahle had a rough front nine on the second day of the two-day tournament, four-putting one hole on what his coach said was a “very, very difficult golf course.” But by the time he walked off the 16th green on Friday, Kahle was within three shots of Laurel’s Carson Hackmann. He put his tee shot on the par-3 17th below the pin before dropping in a birdie put while Hackmann saved par from off the green. On the 18th tee, with his mom, dad, teammates and a growing crowd of spectators watching, he ripped a 300-plus yard drive down the center of the fairway to begin the par-5 closing hole. From there, he grabbed a 4-iron from 220 yards away and left it, once again, about 20 feet from the flagstick. Hackmann rolled a chance at birdie past the hole just before Kahle calmly sank his eagle, pumping his fist as his ball disappeared into the cup.

“It’s certainly something you can’t teach,” Bill Kahle said of his son’s tournament-tying putt. “There was just a calmness. He stood over the putt and focused and he said ‘I just blocked everything else out.’”

Hackmann made his par putt on 18 and the pair began the playoff with pars on holes 10 and 18. They returned to the 10th for the third playoff hole, and after Kahle put his tee shot in the fairway, Hackmann’s drive went into a water hazard. Kahle three-putted for bogey but it was good enough to secure the title.

The Whitefish junior shot 79-77—156, identical scores as Hackman, and Laurel’s Nick Pasquarello was third, just one shot out of the playoff. Kahle finished second in Class A as a sophomore, behind Libby’s Ryggs Johnston, and his win in 2019 gives Northwest Montana the last three boys state champions in Class A.

Laurel’s boys and girls claimed both team titles, and the Whitefish girls (803 total strokes) edged out Corvallis (805) and Sidney (808) to take home a second-place team trophy. Megan Archibald was the Bulldogs’ top finisher (199), earning all-state honors in 11th place, followed by Ella Shaw (201), Kendal Reed (203) and Anya Cripe (204).

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