Kenai takes 9-3 lead in Walker Cup

Truckee LeMay was more successful getting in the air on Friday night than he was on Thursday night, and that has Kenai Golf Course sitting pretty in the Walker Cup.

 

LeMay skied a 56-degree wedge over a cluster of trees and onto the green to punctuate a 5-1 day for Kenai against host Birch Ridge Golf Course.

Kenai’s successful run in Thursday’s alternate shot and Friday’s best ball gives the visitors a 9-3 advantage heading into Sunday’s singles matches, which start at 3 p.m.

“We’re in trouble,” said Birch Ridge captain Tom Walsh.

And that was before the day’s top match — pitting LeMay and Derek Kaufman against Tyler Yamada and Jesse Scott — was decided.

The match went back and forth, with neither team getting more than a hole advantage.

The teams were all square heading to the par-4 18th. After the other three players failed to get their ball on the green in regulation, LeMay faced a shot 90 yards from the hole, but blocked by trees.

He also didn’t have the 60-degree wedge he would normally use to clear those trees.

LeMay’s plan was to fly down from Anchorage on Thursday to participate in the first day of Walker Cup. LeMay checked his clubs, but then the flight was delayed by an hour.

Since he would have missed his tee time anyway, he decided not to fly down. He got his clubs back and found the 60-degree wedge had fallen out of the bag. As of his tee time Friday, it had not been found.

“I talked it over with Derek and we decided I could go over the trees,” LeMay said. “It turned out to be good advice.”

When LeMay two-putted for par, and Yamada and Scott failed to make par, Kenai had its 5-1 victory.

None of Kenai’s other victories were that close: Gordon Griffin and John Dahlgren defeated Mike Chenault and Mike Azzara 5 and 4; Gilbert Arellano and Mark Azzara defeated Jim McWilliams and Paul Zimmerman 6 and 5; Todd Eskelin and Chris Murray defeated Nick Beeson and Brennan Jackson 2 and 1; and Rene Alvarez and Chris Morin defeated Mike Hollingsworth and Jay Kriner 5 and 3.

Birch Ridge’s lone victory came from Josh Lansing and Zach Beeson. The duo took down Bob Sizemore and Doug Jung 6 and 5.

“They played well, and we didn’t play very well,” Walsh said.

With a win Sunday, Kenai can tie the all-time series at 4-4-1. They can also break a string of three straight victories by the home course.

Kenai captain Tommy Carver said his squad’s success Thursday and Friday can be traced to pairing players with a history of success together.

“We have some guys who have a lot of experience in this event playing together,” Carver said. “They’re comfortable with each other, and they know each other’s game well.”

A classic example came in the conversation LeMay and Kaufman shared before the pivotal shot over the trees by LeMay.

“Derek and I have played thousands of rounds of golf together,” LeMay said. “It helps to play with someone who knows you that well.”

Despite the lead, LeMay and Carver said Kenai is not comfortable, with 12 points to be decided Sunday. In singles play, if one team gets the momentum that team can roll up a huge margin, as Kenai did last year in a 10 1-2 to 1 1-2 shakedown of Birch Ridge on singles Sunday.

“They have a lot of good players and this is their home course,” Carver said.

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