PREP GOLF: Bombers bound to win

<p>Pendleton senior Walker Hoolehan lines up his put on the first green on Thursday at the Pendleton Country Club.</p>

PENDLETON — The Richland Bombers took every other placing in the top five and out-shot every other team at the Pendleton Invitational by at least 30 strokes to take first place on Thursday at Pendleton Country Club.

Hunter Thompson was top medalist with a one-over-par 73 while fellow Bombers Jeremy Marcum (76) and Drew McCullough (78) were third and fifth, respectively. Richland totalled 306 strokes between its top four golfers and Walla Walla was second with 336.

Hermiston was just one stroke behind in third and Pendleton was fourth with 343.

The Bulldogs’ 337 strokes came in an unconventional manner as the bottom three golfers out-shot the top two by several strokes.

Zac Adams led the Bulldogs with a 78 that included a one-over-par 37 on the tough back nine. He entered the day listed third on the depth chart.

“Zac did really well. He had an opportunity to shoot quite a bit lower than that,”?Hermiston coach Mike Frink said. “That’s the way golf is but I?think he’s happy with a 78, I’m happy for him.”

No. 4 and 5 golfers Paden LaCoursiere and Keith Anderson both shot 82.

“(Anderson)?is a guy who’s getting better all the time,”?Frink said. “He came out late in the season and he’s doing a wonderful job. He’s improving every round.”

Frink said he sets a goal of 320 strokes for the Bulldogs in each tournament. They’ve hit the mark just once this season, but if Thursday’s scores were a sign of things to come from Adams, LaCoursiere and Anderson, Frink’s goal looks to be in reach.

Keegan Crafton shot a 95 and J.D. Thacker finished his round with a 99. Frink said the scores were anomalies that, while disappointing, weren’t too worrisome.

“I’m not extremely happy with my 1 and 2, with their scores anyway,” he said. “They’re capable of shooting solid low-80s here, they were just having a hard time of concentrating all day long.”

Crafton and Thacker will have several rounds to get their scores back in line before the district tournament on May 6-7 at their home Big River Golf Course in Umatilla. Thursday’s scores continued to suggest that tournament is going to come down to the Buckaroos and Bulldogs as The Dalles Wahtonka was fifth with 369 strokes and Hood River Valley was ninth with 490.

Pendleton continued to close the gap on the Bulldogs and was led by the second-medalist round of Walker Hoolehan, who made the turn at even par and finished three over with a 75. He had three birdies and two bogies in his round.

“I?felt like I?was playing a lot better than my score reflects,” said Hoolehan, who headed back out on the course for a few more holes after the medals were awarded. “I’d say one of the main things is I?just had a lot of putts that lipped out on me. I?gave away a lot of birdies, I’d say on the back nine especially.

“There were a lot of holes where I left myself in great position off the tee and then just didn’t capitalize, and that was the difference between me shooting 75 and being under par.”

Reilly Hegarty and Ti Farrow each shot 87 and Dillon George shot a 94 that completed the team score, and Hoolehan said the young Bucks are just concentrating on picking up strokes wherever they can.

“We’re starting to get closer and closer to Hermiston. I?think the main goal is just to keep improving every week,”?Hoolehan said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who are still a little new to the game and who can definitely keep improving.”

For Farrow, that meant just 29 putts in his round.

“The greens are really pretty fast but we’ve had couple of days to practice on them,”?said Pendleton coach Nels Nelson. “Ti can do better than that, he’s improved his putting, and that’s important.”

Marc Bird was Pendleton's fifth golfer and shot a 112.

Mac-Hi also took part in the nine-team tournament and finished seventh with 376 strokes. A?silver lining could have been that they still edged conference foe La Grande by 13 strokes even without one of their top golfers, who was out with a hand injury.

Andrew Kain led the Pioneers on Thursday with an 84 while Chase Copenhaver shot 90, Sterling Sandberg shot 99, Jeremy Ley shot 103 and Dalton Wesner shot 111.

La Grande will host a tournament of its own today that the Bulldogs, Buckaroos and Pioneers all will attend.

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Contact Matt Entrup at mentrup@eastoregonian.com or (541)?966-0838.

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