Birch Ridge tops Kenai

Soldotna course now has 4-2-1 edge in annual competition

Host Birch Ridge Golf Course won five of the first seven singles matches on Sunday against Kenai Golf Course to clinch the seventh annual Walker Cup.

 

Birch Ridge rolled up a 7 1-2 to 4 1-2 edge in the singles matches to win the event 15-9 and take back the Walker Cup from Kenai.


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Thanks to a 5-1 advantage it took Thursday in the opening day of the three-day event, Birch Ridge went into Sunday with a 7 1-2 to 4 1-2 advantage. That meant Birch Ridge needed to win five of Sunday's 12 singles matches to move its record in Walker Cup play to 4-2-1.

Birch Ridge quickly moved toward the goal as Kevin O'Fallon topped Craig Jung, George Stein finished a 2-0-1 Walker Cup by beating Mark Griffin, Paul Zimmerman topped Doug Jung, Al Fry topped Chris Murray and Taylor Jackson clinched the cup by defeating John Dahlgren.

Birch Ridge captain Tom Walsh pointed to the victories by Zimmerman and Fry as two big reasons why this year's Walker Cup was settled early.

"Those two were big upsets," he said. "Paul Zimmerman and Al Fry defeated two of their better players."

Walsh said Zimmerman is a solid player that keeps the ball in the fairway and putts well. Fry was making his Walker Cup debut because another Birch Ridge player had an elbow injury.

"I was apprehensive because I've really never played in a serious match-play tournament before," Fry said.

The Walker Cup and its match-play format has quickly grown into a favorite for area golfers, and now Fry is a believer.

"After today, I like the format of a match-play tournament," he said. "If you have one bad hole, it's only a bad hole. It doesn't ruin your whole day."

Fry said he won because he was able to keep the ball in play, plus chip and putt well. He also won three out of the four par-3 holes, earning a tie on the other one.

"I usually don't play the par 3s that well," he said. "I just tried to stay relaxed and take one more club."

Jackson closed out the Walker Cup for Birch Ridge on the 17th hole. He had to work on Thursday and Friday, so he was getting his first Walker Cup action of the year Sunday.

Jackson said he has always loved the match-play format, and that showed in his play Sunday.

"I haven't played this good in quite awhile," he said. "It's the best I've swung all year. I think it's this event."

Kenai's wins Sunday came from Greg Harrington beating Darell Jelsma, Rich Edwards beating Mike Hollingsworth, Derek Kaufman beating J.D. Cowan and Gordon Griffin beating Eddie Sibolboro. Griffin finished 3-0 for Kenai, while Harrington went 2-0 in his Walker Cup debut.

Birch Ridge's other wins came from Jeff Hetrick topping Bob Sizemore, and Brennen Jackson topping Todd Eskelin. Hetrick and Jackson finished 3-0 in the Walker Cup.

Beau Forrest and Truckee LeMay played to a tie in the final match of the day. Forrest finished the Walker Cup 2-0-1.

Walker Cup singles matches

Greg Harrington, Ken, def. Darell Jelsma, 3 and 2; Kevin O'Fallon, BR, def. Craig Jung, 3 and 2; George Stein, BR, def. Mark Griffin, 3 and 2; Rich Edwards, Ken, def. Mike Hollingsworth, 3 and 2; Paul Zimmerman, BR, def. Doug Jung, 4 and 3; Al Fry, BR, def. Chris Murray, 3 and 1; Taylor Jackson, BR, def. John Dahlgren, 3 and 1; Derek Kaufman, Ken, def. J.D. Cowan, 6 and 5; Gordon Griffin, Ken, def. Eddie Sibolboro, 6 and 4; Jeff Hetrick, BR, def. Bob Sizemore, 2 and 1; Brennen Jackson, BR, def. Todd Eskelin, 2 and 1; Beau Forrest, BR, tied Truckee LeMay.

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