Hunter defeats Payne in sudden death to win horse race


Brad Hunter hits monster drive onto green in first hole of playoff to earn win

In one of the most fiercely contested events in years, Brad Hunter defeated Mark Payne in sudden death to win the annual Prineville Golf Club Horse Race.

“You know, it’s a smaller event, but I love coming out here,” Hunter, a Crook County High School graduate said of the event. “It’s my home town and it’s a lot of fun.”

The event, which is held in conjunction with the Prineville Pro-Am Invitational, pitted 16 professional golfers against each other. All 16 golfers teed off together with players eliminated each hole until just one golfer remains. In the event that two or more golfers have the high score on a hole, they have a chip off with the golfer or golfers closest to the pin remaining in the LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Brad Hunter tees off on the ninth hole at Prineville Golf Club during the annual horse race Friday. The event is part of the Prineville Pro-Am Invitational. Hunter, a CCHS graduate, went on to win the event in a sudden death playoff with long time Prineville Golf Club professional Mark Payne. Payne (in blue shirt on far left) is watching the shot.

Payne, a long-time professional at Prineville Golf Club, struggled early in the horse race, and was forced into five chip offs during the course of the nine-hole event.

“Well, the first three holes I hit the green in regulation and then I three-putted all of them,” he said.

Hunter, who had been knocked out of the event each of the last four years, at the sixth hole finally survived the hole to continue play.

“I put myself in position the last four years and then hit really bad wedge shots and got out,” he said. “Once I got past there I knew that if I got to the eighth hole I had a really good chance.”

Hunter, Payne, and Jeff Bright were the last three golfers remaining. Hunter blasted his tee shot 30 yards past the other two golfers, but hit a sand trap on his second shot. Payne landed his third shot on the edge of the green, then sunk a 30-foot putt for a birdie on the hole.

“The funny thing was, on the eighth I knew I was going to make it,” Payne said. “It was one of those zone deals, I had no doubt it was going in.”

Hunter responded with a perfect chip and an easy putt to also birdie the hole, eliminating Bright from the event.

Both Payne and Hunter parred the ninth hole, setting up a sudden death playoff.

“At the end I was talking to my caddy, Shane Howard, and we decided to go ahead and hit the driver and try to put one on the green,” Hunter said.

Payne played his tee shot down the left side of the par four’s fairway. Then Hunter stepped up to the green and blasted a shot 320 yards onto the green. From there, Hunter two-putted for a birdie and the win.

“I was proud of Brad,” Payne said. “You know he beat me, which is always a nice way to lose. I didn’t lose, I felt that — well he overpowered me, let's put it that way.”

“You know, growing up, Mark was my mentor,” said Hunter, who currently works at Golf Tech, an indoor golf facility in Tualatin. “He was the one that really taught me how to swing a club and get that power.”