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Former Pacer golf star is No. 2 at Am

Skreen was on Lakeridge High School's first-ever golf team in 1972
by: Eric Yaillen, Brad Skreen finished second at the Oregon Amateur golf tournament last weekend.

West Linn's Brad Skreen has built quite a resume for himself over the last 25 years or so.

Things really started to take off for Skreen when he was a championship motorcycle rider during his early 20s. Then he got into home building, which led to even more awards for the trophy case, including the Best of Show honor at the Street of Dreams two years ago. Now, Skreen is making his mark in golf.

Skreen has always been at least a decent golfer, dating back to his days on Lakeridge High School's first-ever golf team in 1972. Twenty years later, Skreen became a member at Oregon Golf Club and his game improved dramatically.

In 1998, he won the OGC's club championship. Four years later, he teamed up with two other club members to win the Albertson's team championship event, which was televised by KATU-TV. But the biggest feather in Skreen's cap came last week when he was the runner-up at the Oregon Amateur golf championship.

'I had fun, but I didn't expect to go that far … It's an accomplishment that I never thought would happen,' Skreen said of his second-place finish at the Oregon Am.

It was only the second time that Skreen, who's now 51, had ever played in the state's top amateur golf tournament. And he missed the cut on his first try.

There were other times that Skreen wanted to play in the event, but he wasn't allowed to because his handicap was slightly too high. Conceivably, the same thing could have happened this year, but the Oregon Golf Association dropped its handicap requirement. So, Skreen was allowed to enter the event with a 2.0 handicap.

A handicap that low is certainly nothing to scoff at, but it did not make him one of the favorites going into this year's event.

Then, after two rounds of stroke play at the Portland Golf Club, Skreen found himself tied for 36th place with a 9-over-par 153. That easily advanced him into the first round of match play - the round of 64 - and Skreen won his first match 4 and 3 over David Green of Sisters.

At that point, the former Lakeridge star figured he had the highest handicap of the 32 players still left in the competition. If so, Skreen would have been a good bet to lose his second-round match to Denny Taylor, a good friend from Gladstone.

'(Taylor) won the first three holes and I thought he was going to kill me,' Skreen said. 'I never dreamed I would beat him.'

But Skreen won that match by a 2 and 1 score. Then, it was on to the round of 16 and Skreen won that match by a 3 and 2 score over Clayton Moe of Corvallis.

Upset bids, like the one Skreen was trying to mount, often end in the quarterfinal round, where the competition gets unbelievably tough. But the West Linn homebuilder started playing even better. In that round, he beat Brandon Kearney of Bend 5 and 3 and he beat Brooks Newsom of Portland by the same score in the semifinals. It's interesting to note that both of the 5 and 3 victories came on the same day - last Friday.

'I was just hanging around … but I was winning my matches pretty easily,' Skreen said.

That set up a 36-hole championship match against Mitchell Gillis, a 22-year-old from British Columbia who crushes his tee shots. Gillis was often able to hit his drives 30 to 40 yards past Skreen. That helped Gillis open a five-hole lead through the first 18 holes.

It was during that morning round that Skreen developed a blister on his foot, which could have doomed his chances during the hot afternoon round. But he came back and shot a 32 on his third 9, 'so I was pretty excited,' he said.

That 32 trimmed Gillis' lead to 3-up, and then, 'I kind of ran out of gas,' Skreen said. 'I was so tired by the time I got to the 15th.'

Even a large cheering section of friends and fellow players from the Oregon Golf Club couldn't pull Skreen through at that point. Still, Skreen feels he owes some of his success to those people.

That group included Paul Campbell, a good friend and occasional playing partner at OGC. Campbell also competed in the tournament and he made it to the round of 16 before bowing to Scott Hval of Portland. In the previous round, Campbell scored a convincing 5 and 4 victory over Landon Banks of Beaverton. In the round of 64, he beat Ryan Fery, also of Beaverton, 3 and 2.

In a way, it's almost too bad that Skreen and Campbell didn't wind up meeting each other in the tournament. So, for now, Skreen has bragging rights between two even though Campbell is the defending OGC club champion and the reigning Oregon Senior champion. It's almost certain there will be a discussion of each player's merits the next time they meet up.

'Oregon Golf Club has some of the best senior players around,' Skreen said. 'We're all friends, but we all want to beat each other's brains out.'