REDMOND, Ore. — Russell Grove hadn’t had much time to practice this spring.
But with good reason — he was kinda busy coaching his North Idaho College men’s golf team to the Northwest Athletic Conference championship, and guiding his Cardinal women’s team to a second-place finish at the conference tourney.
This week, with ample time to prepare, Grove romped to a six-shot victory at the Oregon Open Invitational, which concluded Thursday at the Juniper Golf Course.
“I haven’t been playing very well this spring,” Grove said. “It was nice to actually prepare for this one. I was hitting it well, and making some putts. If you’re not playing and practicing, it’s hard to expect anything. I was able to get in a good week of practice.”
Grove shot a 13-under-par 203 in the 54-hole tourney. He led by three shots after Tuesday’s first round and led by four after Wednesday. He shot 67-65-71—213, six shots clear of Derek Berg of Sahalee Country Club.
Prairie Falls co-owner Billy Bomar finished tied for third at 3-under 213, shooting 73-71-69. He finished tied with amateur Reid Hatley of Hayden Lake, who was low amateur (71-69-73).
Grove, the former Coeur d’Alene High and University of Idaho standout, remembers playing well at Juniper in 2013, when the Oregon Open was last held there, and said the previous knowledge of the course helped this week.
Grove played in the final group Thursday with Berg and Hatley. Berg had four birdies on the front nine to close within three strokes of Grove at the turn. But Grove birdied No. 10 while Berg bogeyed, and Grove parred 11 as Berg double-bogeyed the hole, and suddenly Grove’s lead was seven.
Grove went on to win his first tournament since the 2013 Lilac City Invitational just outside Spokane.
Grove is remaining in central Oregon, as last fall he was one of the qualfiers from Pacific Northwest PGA Section for the 50th PGA Professional Championship at Sunriver, Ore., which begins Sunday.
Earlier in the week, Grove and amateur Ross Gilbert, a freshman who plays for Grove at NIC, won the four-ball competition.