July 14, 2007 in Sports

Upham leads

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Several competitors put up seriously low numbers during Friday’s opening round of the 20th annual Rosauers Open Invitational golf tournament – including Portland amateur Cody Upham, who blistered Indian Canyon Golf Course with a 9-under-par 62 that proved to be the low round of the day.

But it was the midafternoon wind, rain and lightning storm that blew through the region that provided the most intriguing storyline.

Just a couple of hours after former champion Todd Erwin – in near-perfect weather conditions – had grabbed the early lead with a splendid 7-unde 64, the winds began to blow, forcing scores to soar. And just a short time later, tournament officials called players off the course because of a spectacular lightning show that delayed the proceedings for almost two hours and left nearly 21 golfers unable to complete their opening rounds because of darkness.

“It was brutal,” MeadowWood head professional Bob Scott said of the winds that were gusting upward of 35 mph. “It made you indecisive over almost every shot.”

Shortly before Pacific Northwest PGA officials sounded the horn to suspend play, Scott, who teed off at 2:18 p.m. when the winds were peaking, hooked his drive off the No. 10 tee box left into the trees.

Rather than go mark his ball, he opted to let it lie, saying, “Maybe the wind will blow it out of the woods by the time we get started again.”

Two players who didn’t succumb to the afternoon storm and subsequent delay were Upham and local professional Mark Gardner, whose opening-round 63 put him one shot off the lead heading into today’s second round of the 54-hole event that concludes Sunday.

Upham, playing out of Columbia Edgewater Country Club, teed off on the back nine shortly before the winds began raking the 6,255-yard, par-71 Canyon layout. He opened his remarkable round with seven straight pars before making birdies on 17 and 18.

Then he scorched the front nine with a 7-under 28 that included five more birdies and an eagle on the par-5 second hole.

Gardner, the head professional at The Creek at Qualchan, started on the back nine and had finished four holes before the wind kicked up. He was five strokes under par at the turn, despite having the leaderboard next to the 18th green blow over while he was putting. He posted two more birdies on the front and was comfortably positioned in the fairway on the sixth hole when the horns sounded, suspending play shortly before 5.

At about 6:35, tournament officials reopened the practice range, and play was resumed a short time later.

Erwin, a teaching pro at Tacoma Firs Golf Center in Tacoma, started his day by making four straight 3s that included an eagle on the par-5 second and birdies on the first and third holes. His only bogey came at the fifth.”I didn’t hit it as close today, but I made nearly every putt I looked at, although I did miss a 2-footer for birdie on No. 12,” Erwin said.

One of Erwin’s playing partners, Greg VanNatta, from the Tradition Golf Club in La Quinta, Calif., turned in an opening-round 65 to earn a share of fourth place with defending champion Jeff Coston, a teaching pro out of Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club in Blaine, Wash.

Players who were unable to finish their first rounds will do so this morning, starting at 7:30, before beginning second-round play at their originally scheduled times.


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