Eyes are on Peterson at Royal Oaks

Invitational’s defending champ part of solid field

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor




What: 55th annual Royal Oaks Invitational golf tournament.

When: Second round tees off at 7:30 a.m. today with the last group scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Final round leaders tee off approximately 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Where: Royal Oaks Country Club, 8917 NE Fourth Plain Blvd.,

in Vancouver.

On the Web:roit.org

Paul Peterson’s defense of his title at the Royal Oaks Invitational got off to a solid start Friday with a 1-under-par 71.

Not that he views it as a defense of his championship.

“It’s a new year, the golf course is different,” the former Oregon State golfer said. “I’m coming in with no expectations.”

Everybody else, though, probably has big expectations for Peterson. He won last year’s event by two shots, and used the victory as a springboard to an outstanding summer of amateur golf.

Peterson won the Oregon Amateur last June, finished in the top 10 at the Pacific Coast Amateur, and played on the Hudson Cup team — a prestigious regional competition.

It all started at the Royal Oaks Invitational, one of the elite amateur golf competitions in the Northwest. This year’s version of the event kicked off Friday, and the 72-hole competition concludes Sunday at the course in Northeast Vancouver.

“There are 123 players at scratch or better, out of 200,” said Scott Leritz, head pro at Royal Oaks. “They say it’s one of the best fields we’ve ever had.”

And while Peterson is the defending champion, he faces a much different challenge than a year ago.

“We played lift, clean, and replace the first two rounds last year,” he said. “We could hit right at the greens because they were soft.

“This year, the ball is bouncing more.”

With dry weather over the past week, the course is playing fast.

“The greens are rolling about 12.6 on the Stimpmeter,” Leritz said. “That would be about like the U.S. Open.”

Peterson is comfortable with that, though.

“I like old, tight golf courses,” he said.

After concluding his eligibility at OSU in 2010, he continues to work toward his degree and is planning to turn pro either in the fall or winter.

But first things first.

“Anytime you’re shooting at or under par out here,” Peterson said, “you can put yourself in contention on Sunday.”

Royal Oaks Invitational

At Royal Oaks Country Club, Vancouver

Par: 72

First Round Leaders

Kevin Pom Arleau 69 -3

Landon Banks 69 -3

Matt Hartley 70 -2

Trevor Simsby 70 -2

Charlie Hughes 71 -1

Eric Grimberg 71 -1

Gaston De La Torre 71 -1

Jake Wagner 71 -1

Matt Epstein 71 -1

Paul Peterson 71 -1

Dylan Goodwin 72 E

Steven Dasilva 72 E

(Click here for complete list of first-round scores.)