UMATILLA — Zac Adams dropped the final putt of his round into the cup at Big River Golf Course in Umatilla before strolling back to the clubhouse. His 18-hole score of 82 led the early flight of the boys group at the Northeast Oregon Junior Golf Association Tournament on Monday, but he’d have to wait while the rest of the field trickled in to know his placing for sure.
But Adams, 15, wasn’t feeling solicitous or anxious in any way after one of his best scores of the year. Monday’s was just a summer tournament, one to be played for fun and for practice. The Hermiston boy packaged his own score up in the back of his mind, instead galavanting around the course and catching up with other golfers.
“My friends and I just drove around in the golf cart trying to see how everybody else was doing,” said Adams of the downtime spent with Hermiston High teammates Keegan Crafton and Paden LaCoursiere.
“My putts were dead on, same with my chipping,” said Adams, who birdied the par-5 fifth hole and the par-4 No. 14 hole.
He beat out LaCoursiere by six strokes for the win for boys aged 14-18 years and edged Nathan Som, 13, for the overall boys’ victory.
Som shot an 83.
But the low score on the day went to Haley Greb in the intermediate girls classification. Greb, a 13-year-old Pendleton resident, shot an 80 to finish her day at an even 10 strokes above the course’s par of 70.
Greb had enough buffer between her and the rest of the competition that she could have added another two holes worth of shots to her cumulative score without losing the lead. Nine strokes separated Greb from the next best female golfer, Madison Welch.
“I actually drove the ball very well today and it worked out,” she said. “On the first hole, I hit a tee shot on the green to about like three or four feet and made the putt for birdie, my only birdie of the day.”
Greb’s 80 is the lowest score for her through five NEOJGA tournaments this summer, not counting the nine-hole Willow Creek Country Club course in Heppner. She continues to lead the season points standings for the intermediate girls, having won all five tournaments in which she entered.
Monday provided a new best placing for Som as well back on the boys’ side of the game. The Pendletonian has competed in all but one of the seven NEOJGA tournaments this year, never placing higher than fourth for the intermediate boys (12 to 13-year-olds).
Som has recently filled his practice sessions with short game work, honing his putting and chipping skills around the green. All of that has certainly helped, he said, but there’s been a little bit of luck, too.
“I was just getting a lot of good breaks,” Som said, pointing at the 312-yard, No. 18 hole as an example Monday. “I hit a bad second shot and got a really lucky break. It almost kicked off a tree trunk onto the green.”
Som put in the putt for par.
Only one official NEOJGA event remains on the schedule for the summer but the association has added another tournament this week. Golfers will get to play one more, taking to the Milton-Freewater Municipal Golf Course on Wednesday.
The final tournament is hosted by Buffalo Peak Golf Course in Union. Players will tee off there at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or 541-966-0839.