62nd Oregon Men’s Stroke Play Championship
Where: Juniper Golf Course, Redmond
Format: 54 holes of stroke play
When: Final round today
Tee times: Senior Division tees off at 7:30 a.m., Open Division leaders at 12:20 p.m.
Admission: Free for spectators
REDMOND — Don Orrell was something of an unknown in Oregon golf before the 62nd Oregon Men’s Stroke Play Championship.
Then he grabbed the lead in the tournament’s Senior Division.
The 63-year-old Bend mortgage banker followed an opening-round 3-under-par 69 Friday with a 72 at Juniper Golf Course to head into today’s final round with a two-stroke lead.
Along the way he has introduced himself to the state’s best senior amateurs, many of whom have played against each other for years in statewide tournaments.
“I played good yesterday (Friday),” said Orrell in the comfort of Juniper’s clubhouse just minutes after completing a hazy morning round. “It felt good to finally play like this.”
Albany’s Conner Kumpula, who plays college golf at Oregon State, holds the 36-hole lead in the tournament’s top division after shooting his second consecutive 4-under 68. He holds a two-stroke lead over Ray Richards, of Tualatin, in the top division of the Stroke Play Championship. Justin Kadin, a 24-year-old caddie from Bend, sits in a tie for sixth place at 2 under after he fired a second-round 69.
Scott Carver, of Portland, leads the Master-40 Division at 5 over.
Orrell, who moved to Bend from Utah six years ago, has grabbed plenty of attention, too.
Playing the senior tees set at 6,803 yards — nearly 400 yards shorter than the tournament’s Open Division, which is littered with the state’s top young amateur golfers — Orrell’s first-round 69 was the second-lowest score in any division on the Stroke Play’s first day.
For many in the 158-player field, all but 22 of whom live outside Central Oregon, it was the first time they have seen Orrell’s name.
“He is a new guy to most of us,” said Denny Taylor, a 62-year-old from Gladstone who trails Orrell by two strokes after a second-round 69. “Every once in a while in the Oregon Golf Association, you see somebody who you are not familiar with.”
Orrell does not travel much to play in OGA events, but he has made it a point to play in the tournaments close to home.
He advanced to the quarterfinals of the Oregon Senior Amateur when it was played last year at Brasada Canyons Golf Club in Powell Butte. And he has fared well in some smaller local events.
An avid skier who grew up in Eugene, Orrell does have an impressive amateur golf resume. But most of his success came in Colorado, where he spent much of his adult life.
There he was a fixture in statewide amateur events, and in Colorado he qualified in past U.S. Public Links and U.S. Mid-Amateur championships.
But he rarely played when he first moved to Oregon while he battled a balky back.
“I have a lot of tournament experience,” said Orrell, who is both friendly and chatty. “It’s not like I just started playing tournaments.
“I’m starting to get my game back. But you know what? I’m 63 years old, so I don’t have any ambition to do any more than just come out and compete and play.”
Now he has a chance to make a permanent mark in Oregon golf by winning the Senior Division of one of the state’s most prestigious events.
Orrell will have to beat a deep field, including Taylor, who said it does not bother him to chase a golfer who he does not know.
“Instead of playing the people, you’ve got to play the golf course and shoot the best you can,” Taylor said.
Orrell’s strategy for today’s final round is not complicated.
“Don’t choke,” he said with a laugh while holding his hands around his neck. “It is as simple as that.
“I just hope I keep playing the same as I am playing now. I will just go out there and play the best I can, and what happens, happens.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7868, firstname.lastname@example.org.