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Oropallo saddles a winner in Sasquatch Pro-Am

Rarely has Patrick Oropallo had as fine a day of golf as he did Monday in the Sasquatch Open Pro-Am at Centennial Golf Club.

And what did he get for it? A fitful night's sleep and the makings of an ulcer.

Oropallo, the head pro at Eagle Point, shot a bogey-free, 5-under-par 67, then topped the day off by winning a horse race against nine other pros who qualified with top-10 scores.

The tournament proper featured 17 pros from Oregon and northern California. They each teamed with four amateurs for the inaugural two-day event.

"I lost sleep," Oropallo said of Monday night. "It's hard to back up a good round with another good round."

Only one other player in the first round — Kris Isackson, a former assistant pro at Eagle Point — shot better, posting a course-record 64.

"I knew Kris wouldn't come back to the field," said Oropallo. "I knew I had to shoot lower, and after winning the horse race, I had all this anxiety wondering if I could keep it up."

He turned around and crafted a 71 on Tuesday to place second overall among the pros with a 138.

"I was much more proud of that 71," said Oropallo, "because golf was not easy that day. I had to grind it out, and I put up a decent score."

Oropallo has participated in a few horse races but had never won one. Playing in front of a crowd that included peers he's long looked up to, he admitted to being nervous.

In the format, all 10 pros began on the opening hole, which in this case was the par-3 14th. They played it at the same time, and the two worst scores resulted in elimination.

If more than two players had the highest score, they chipped off to determine who advanced.

Two players were dropped after each of the first three holes, then one player was ousted at No. 17. That left three to play No. 18 for win, place and show positioning.

Oropallo survived a four-man chip-off on the first hole with a wonderful shot, easing the tension.

"Unless you hit that good shot to settle yourself down," he said, "you never do quite settle down."

He parred No. 15 and birdied the par-5 16th, even though he was the shortest hitter in the group. While most others were green-side in two, he hit a 100-yard sand wedge to 10 feet.

"I didn't realize how important that putt was," he said, noting that pars had to chip off.

A par at No. 17 got him through, then came the 18th, against Centennial's Anthony Ulloa and Jarrod Warner of Harbor Links in Klamath Falls.

On the long par 4, Oropallo — who makes up for a lack of distance relative to other pros with a deft short game — put his second shot in a right greenside bunker.

Worried? Not in the least.

"For me, just getting around the green puts me in a comfort zone," he said.

In fact, Oropallo told his cart companion the others might have written him off for being in the sand, but he felt like he was "in the driver's seat."

"I knew I would put it close," he said.

And he did, to 8 feet, leading to par.

Ulloa, on in regulation, then had to make a 7-footer to force a chip off, and he did. Warner made bogey.

Oropallo and Ulloa were taken to the right rough on the same side of the 18th green as Oropallo's sand shot. They had to hit over the bunker to a green running away, a fittingly difficult shot to decide the winner.

Oropallo hit it "absolutely perfect," just onto the green so it could release to about 7 feet from the hole.

"I could drop a bucket of balls and never get that close," he said of the winning shot.

An amateur horse race was also held. Mark Wilson triumphed with a birdie on the last hole, beating out Kyle Oldfield (par) and John Warner (bogey).


BROKEN RECORD: Isackson didn't let one of the former record-holders have the milestone for long.

Pros and many amateurs in the Sasquatch Open Pro-Am played the purple tees, which measure 6,900 yards.

The record of 65 from those tees was set last summer by Daniel Engle. It was matched on Sunday by Rick Dimick, who had all of one day to enjoy it.

Isackson, who no longer works in the golf industry, snatched it away with his 64. He had eight birdies and 10 pars, even though he's played little this summer. He was in a pro-am in early May and got out to play a couple nines and practice prior to the Sasquatch Open.

"It was kind of a surprise," said Isackson, who made news two years ago when he shot a 59 at Eagle Point. "My game felt OK, but I don't have a lot of expectations because I haven't been playing a lot. Obviously, it all came together, so that was nice. I'm a pretty good putter, so if I can keep it in play and let my short game take over, that's the goal. I hit some shots to spots where I had a good chance to make some putts."

Which means, he was repeatedly below the hole and "could stay aggressive" with his putter.

Isackson's group started on No. 16 in the shotgun format, and he was 4 under after 12 holes.

Then came a string of birdies at Nos. 10 through 13.

"It all happened really quickly," said Isackson. "I had a good round going, then four birdies in a row."

With two holes remaining, the run stopped. He two-putted from 25 and 30 feet on the 14th and 15th holes, respectively.

"It was an exciting day, gosh," said Isackson, who blended his hot putter with solid driving. "I was pretty much in the fairway all day."

Isackson won the overall pro title. He shot even par on Tuesday for a 136 total, beating Oropallo by two shots.

The 64 was second only to a 63 among competition scores for Isackson.

Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com