Albany golfer wins Oregon Stroke Play

By Zack Hall The Bulletin

REDMOND — Conner Kumpula could not recall a moment during the 62nd Oregon Men’s Stroke Play Championship when he knew he had the tournament won.

Maybe that was because he felt he could win before he ever stepped foot on Juniper Golf Course.

Kumpula, a 19-year-old from Albany, shot a final-round, 5-under-par 67 Sunday at Juniper to post a wire-to-wire win at 13 under in the 54-hole tournament.

“Coming into this tournament I knew I was feeling good enough to win,” said Kumpula, a rising sophomore at Oregon State, where he plays for the men’s golf team. “I just went out there and played.

“This is one of the good ones,” he said of the Stroke Play, one of the Oregon Golf Association’s two annual major amateur tournaments. “And it is an honor to win this one.”

Kumpula beat second-place Zach Foushee, of West Linn, by three strokes. Taylor Garbutt and Justin Kadin, who both live in Bend, tied for 11th place at even par.

Starting the day with a two-stroke lead, Kumpula quickly asserted control with birdies on four of his first seven holes.

That helped stretch his lead to a five-stroke advantage.

In fact, Kumpula was playing so well that with a birdie on the par-3 13th hole he moved to 7 under — despite a bogey on the par-4 ninth hole after he hit into a water hazard. But his bid for the Juniper course record (64) was lost when his approach shot into the 15th green drifted into the greenside water hazard.

“I was playing great today,” Kumpula said. “I hit two in the water, though, so it could have been an awesome round. But, you know, those things happen.

“I was feeling a little too relaxed out there at times.”

In the Senior Division, Randy Mahar shot a 4-under-par 68 to come from well back in the field to win at even par.

Mahar — a 58-year-old Portland stockbroker who has won the Oregon Amateur Championship and the Oregon Mid-Amateur Championship in his career — trailed Bend’s Don Orrell by seven strokes to begin the final round. Orrell finished in a tie for third place at 3 over after shooting a 6-over 78.

Scott Carver, of Portland, won the Master-40 Division at 8 over.

Perhaps the best final round belonged to Foushee, the 2013 Stroke Play champion. The Oregon Ducks golfer closed with a 7-under 65 to finish at 10 under and in second place.

Foushee also made a run at the course record, but his chip for birdie on the par-5 18th stopped just inches from the hole.

“I was looking to try to get to double digits (under par) and thought it would be good enough,” said Foushee, who started the day five strokes behind Kumpula. “But Kumpula is playing great right now. That’s good for him and good for Oregon State.”

When Kumpula walked off the 18th green and to the Juniper clubhouse to sign his scorecard, he was met with applause from more than a dozen spectators, most of whom were his opponents.

Wearing the orange and black of Oregon State, the West Albany High graduate flashed a sheepish grin while giving a modest wave of appreciation.

By winning the Oregon Stroke Play, he had added to his golf resume one of the important amateur titles in the state.

Still, he was not ready to say that he is one of the best in Oregon.

“Zach’s been on top for a while, so you can’t really just swing me in right there,” Kumpula said. “But take it for what it is.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7868, zhall@bendbulletin.com.

Meg Roussos / The Bulletin Conner Kumpula, of Albany, won the Oregon Menís Stroke Play Championship at Juniper Golf Course in Redmond on Sunday.
Meg Roussos / The Bulletin Conner Kumpula, of Albany, tees off on the 10th hole while competing in the final round of the Oregon Mens Stroke Play Championship at Juniper Golf Course in Redmond on Sunday.