Attack and conquer: Carney-Nadeau graduate Hunter Eichhorn posts 8-under 64 to grab U.P. Golf Association men’s lead, Ishpeming’s Mark Clements 7th with even-par 72
NORWAY — Carney’s Hunter Eichhorn attacked Oak Crest Golf Course and emerged with the first-round lead Tuesday in the 104th edition of the Upper Peninsula Golf Association Men’s Championship.
Eichhorn tallied an 8-under-par 64 to take a three-shot lead over Kyle Pouliot, a 2016 graduate of Gladstone High School who will be a junior on the Northern Michigan University men’s team this fall.
“I was pretty aggressive and it paid off,” said Eichhorn, a Marquette University sophomore-to-be who won four MHSAA U.P. Division 3 high school titles and is a 2017 graduate of Carney-Nadeau High School. “I was just kind of free-wheeling it.”
Eichhorn recorded an eagle on the par-4, 316-yard second hole and added seven birdies while bogeying No. 15.
“I just hit good shots and I capitalized on most of the opportunities,” said Eichhorn, who also shares the Oak Crest record of 63. “I did leave a few out there. I missed a couple good looks on the back (nine) that would have put me under the record. But that’s golf.”
Eichhorn’s tee shot on No. 2 wound up inches off the green and pin high, setting him up for his eagle.
Defending champion Gunnar Stein of Houghton, who was playing in the group with Eichhorn, said the drive was “perfect.”
“Hunter is a great player, great ball striker, good putter,” Stein said. “He played well today.”
Stein shot a 1-under-par 71 to stand sixth, a year after he defeated Baraga native John “Gus” Koskinen in a playoff for the 2017 title at Wawonowin Country Club in Champion.
Eichhorn carded 30 on the front nine. Pouliot posted 34-33 for his 67.
Norway’s Mike Solda and Chad Tirschel joined Iron Mountain’s Nick Markell at 68.
“I just hit the ball real well,” said Solda, noting he reached 16 greens in regulation. “That was fun.”
Stein, a 20-year-old Saginaw Valley State University golfer who just completed his freshman year there, took a test there Monday and drove back to Houghton that day. But he didn’t blame the travel for shooting a 38 on the front nine.
“On the front I wasn’t hitting greens in regulation,” Stein said. “I made a few bogeys that were costly.
“I had a strong back (nine with 33). Hopefully, I can carry that nine into tomorrow.”
Following today’s second round, the field of 102 golfers will be pared to nine flights. The top 12 golfers will be placed in the championship flight to continue stroke play.
“It was pretty solid,” Eichhorn said of his round. “I missed a couple good looks that I didn’t want to miss but that happens.
“We’ll go out there tomorrow and try to do the same thing and improve.”
• Eichhorn is playing in his second U.P. Golf Association men’s tournament, recalling one at Little River “four or five years ago.” The results? “Not very good,” he said
• Gaastra native Dale Ward Sr. will be honored tonight as the U.P. Golf Association honoree from Oak Crest. Presently the UPGA president, Ward also served as secretary-treasurer for 15 years
• Stein, on his 450-mile ride Monday from Saginaw to Houghton followed by another 120 miles to Oak Crest: “That might make you a little lethargic and stiff. But I’m young, I can handle it.”
• Markell eagled the par 5-13th hole Tuesday. He had another eagle during Monday’s practice round on the par-5-16th hole
• Oak Crest Men’s League coordinator Bill Menza, after finishing on No. 18 and taking notice of a large gallery following the group with Eichhorn, Stein, Bryce Douglas and Rob Ryan: “Thanks for coming to watch me.”
• Other first-round scores from former U.P. champions: Mark Clements of Ishpeming, 72, tied for seventh; Matt Argall of Gladstone, 74; Joe Quinn, 74; Jim Markell, 76; and Jon Ellis, 77
• Oak Crest Golf Course, bidding for its first U.P. team title since 1978, got a boost with Eichhorn on the roster.
Here are the top 20 scorers and ties from Monday’s first round:
64 — Hunter Eichhorn
67 — Kyle Pouliot
68 — Nick Markell, Mike Solda, Chad Tirschel
71 — Gunnar Stein
72 — Mark Clements, Jeff McCall, Joe Pontbriand
73 — Tim Kramer, Tom LaVigne, Chad Menza, Nate Rousseau, Scott Sanders, Steve Schmidt, Riley Thomson
74 — Matt Argall, Ryan Gordon, Ryan Pepin, Joe Quinn, Joe Strong