Eichhorn takes UPGA tourney lead

Marquette University golfer takes 8-under, 3-shot lead at Oak Crest

Hunter Eichhorn, a Marquette University golfer from Carney, fired an eight-under-par 64 to lead the opening round Tuesday of the 104th UP Golf Association Men's Championships at Oak Crest Golf Course in Norway. (Burt Angeli/The Daily News)

NORWAY — Carney’s Hunter Eichhorn attacked Oak Crest Golf Course and emerged with the first-round lead Tuesday in the 104th UP Golf Association Men’s Championships.

Eichhorn tallied an eight-under par 64 to take a three-shot lead over Kyle Pouliot.

“I was pretty aggressive and it paid off,” said Eichhorn, a Marquette University standout who won four UP Division 3 high school titles. “I was just kind of free-wheeling it.”

Eichhorn recorded an eagle on the par-4, 316-yard second hole and added seven birdies with a bogey on No. 15 in his round.

“I just hit good shots and I capitalized on most of the opportunities,” said Eichhorn, who shares the Oak Crest record at 63 with three other golfers. “I did leave a few out there. I missed a couple good looks on the back 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. He then putted for eagle.

Defending champion Gunnar Stein, who was playing in the group with Eichhorn, said the drive was “perfect.”

“Hunter is a great player, great ball striker, good putter,” said Stein, who shot a 71 for sixth-place. “He played well today.”

Eichhorn carded a 30 on the front nine. Pouliot, a Northern Michigan University golfer from Gladstone, posted a 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 16 greens hit in regulation. “That was fun.”

Stein, a Saginaw Valley State University golfer who took a test there Monday and drove to Houghton that day, 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 (33). Hopefully, I can carry that nine into tomorrow.”

After today’s round, the field of 102 golfers will be pared to nine flights. The top 12 golfers will be in championship flight.

“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.”

NOTES: Eichhorn is playing in his second UP Golf Association men’s tournament, recalling one at Little River “four or five years ago. The results? “Not very good,” Eichhorn said … Gaastra native Dale Ward Sr. will be honored tonight as the UP Golf Association Honoree from Oak Crest. Now 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 UP champions: Mark Clements, 72 (tied for seventh); Matt Argall, 74; Joe Quinn, 74; Jim Markell, 76; and Jon Ellis, 77 … Oak Crest Golf Course, bidding for its first UP team title since 1978, got a boost with Eichhorn on the roster.

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