Anchorage Golf Course professional Billy Bomar warmed up for an attempt at making his first Champions Tour event by winning the Kenai Peninsula Open on Sunday at Birch Ridge Golf Course.
Bomar took the two-day event with a 4-under-par 136. Rob Nelson of Eagleglen Golf Course was second at 139, while Casey Cusack was third at 140.
The tournament came in the midst of a busy time for Bomar, who turned 50 this year to become eligible for the Champions Tour.
On Thursday, he finished second in the Boeing Classic pre-qualifier at Druids Glen Golf Course in Covington, Wash. Bomar fired a 70 at the par-72 course.
He then flew back to Alaska for the Kenai Peninsula Open. He will return to Washington for the qualifier for the Boeing Classic on Tuesday.
Should Bomar play well enough Tuesday, he will tee it up for the first time on the Champions Tour from Friday through Sunday at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge in Snoqualmie, Wash.
“I’m excited,” Bomar said. “I’ve been playing really well. I spent the last five months practicing, which is something I haven’t been able to do in eight or nine years.”
A lot of that practice has come on his short game, and Bomar showed a magical touch around the greens to take control of the tournament after nine holes Saturday.
He started by holing out from 92 yards on the first hole for an eagle, then chipping in for birdie on No. 2.
He would go on to be 7-under after six holes, which he said he has never done before.
Even more impressively, he had 10 putts on the first nine holes, even with taking three putts on the eighth. In the Thursday pre-qualifier, Bomar had 22 putts for 18 holes.
Bomar has lived full-time in Alaska since 2002, raising the question of how he will handle the faster greens in the Lower 48. He said he is not concerned about the transition.
“I’m a really good putter, and I’m putting really well right now,” he said. “(Saturday) was the best I’ve ever putted here.”
With the PGA set to effect a ban on anchored putting strokes in 2016, if Bomar makes noise on the Champions Tour, he could start a trend with his side-saddle or face-on putting stroke.
Bomar putts by facing the hole with both eyes and swinging the putter underhanded.
He said he’s putted that way since he was 10 years old, but that method has never caught on in professional golf.
With the ban on anchored putting looming, Bomar said those with anchored putting strokes could become very interested in his putting style, which does not require an anchored stroke.
For instance, Bomar said Masters champion Adam Scott uses an anchored stroke, but Scott’s father putts side-saddle.
“I was thinking I could start a trend 30 years ago, but maybe I will be able to do it now,” Bomar said.
Bomar came into the day with a 4-shot lead over Nelson, and Nelson was never able to seriously push Bomar as Bomar took his first Open title in his first appearance at the event.
Bomar said in accepting first place that Birch Ridge is one of his favorite places to come and play golf.
He said there are many memories at the course, like Beau Forrest caddying for the pros 15 years ago.
Forrest is all grown up now. Sunday, he cruised to his fifth men’s amateur title in the last seven years.
Forrest fired a 71 on Saturday to take a 3-shot lead over Marcus Dolejsi. When Dolejsi did not finish his round Sunday, Forrest’s total of 145 was 16 shots better than runner-up Jesse Scott.
Forrest said he had a 66 at Birch Ridge on Wednesday and a 67 on Thursday, but he knew hitting those scores would be tougher under tournament play.
He said he really enjoyed playing with the pros in the tournament.
“Billy (Bomar) is one of my biggest mentors in this state,” Forrest said. “He’s always given me courage.
“He’s helped me out a great deal.”
While Forrest kept the men’s amateur in his thrall, Ardie Crawford just missed a fourth-straight title in the women’s amateur.
Tanna Chenault won her third amateur title with a two-day total of 177, finishing four strokes ahead of Crawford. Chenault also won the amateur in 1996 and 2009.
Chenault said the key to her win was the first day of the tournament, when Crawford had a 92 and Chenault had an 84.
That didn’t give her much comfort Sunday, though.
“Anything can happen out there,” she said. “You saw that in this tournament, when she had a 92 on Saturday and I had a 93 today.
“I thought I was going to lose it there for a while.”
Tyler Yamada took his first junior title with a two-day total of 169, finishing 1 stroke ahead of Jake Eubank.
Yamada said playing in tournaments is a learning process.
“I didn’t play very good,” he said. “I don’t like waiting and taking a lot of time. I have to work on that.”
Steve Tachick won the men’s amateur low net, while Darell Jelsma was second.
Denise Cox won low net for the women, while Judy Salo was second.
Liedes holds off Arellano at Donnie Morgan
Ken Liedes held off defending champion Gilbert Arellano on Sunday at Kenai Golf Course to win the Donnie Morgan Club Championship.
Liedes had a two-day total of 156, while Arellano was at 159.
“I feel good,” Liedes said. “I played good. I had a couple of bad holes, but other than that I stayed steady.”
Liedes had taken control of the tournament with a 3-over-par 75 on Saturday in rainy conditions. That was the only round in the 70s on the opening day of the tournament.
Arellano fired a 74 on Sunday for the low round of the tournament, but it was not enough to erase his 85 on Saturday. Liedes closed with a steady 81.
Liedes won playing out of the second flight with his 11 handicap. That meant his net was a rock-bottom 134.
“I used the same mental plan,” Liedes said. “I wanted to keep the ball in play off the tee and hopefully make good shots after that.”
It was the first championship for Liedes at Kenai Golf Course since winning the Kenai Open in 1995 and 1996. It was also the first championship since Liedes got his knee replaced in January 2012.
Liedes, 73, also is an avid bowler, so when his right knee kept him from bowling late in 2011, he got the operation and his bowling and golfing games have been on the upswing since. He also tied for fifth in April in a bowling tournament in Las Vegas.
“I’m just happy to get this one under my belt,” Liedes said. “Next year, I hope somebody has as much fun as I did.”
Derek Kaufman and Gordon Griffin tied for third at 165. Kaufman took low net in the first flight, while Arellano was second and Griffin was third. Since Liedes won low gross for the tournament, he could not claim low net for second flight. Noel Widmayer won low net in second flight, while Dana Bassel was second.
Kenai Peninsula Open
at Birch Ridge Golf Course
Plyr Sa Su Grs Net
Pro (No net)
Billy Bomar 64 72 136
Rob Nelson 68 71 139
Casey Cusack 71 69 140
James Contreras 75 67 142
Tommy Carver 74 77 151
Nolan Rose 73 80 153
Travis Jorgenson 76 83 159
Bill Engberg 81 81 162
Jeff Barnhardt 86 81 167
Tanna Chenault 84 93 177 143
Ardie Crawford 92 89 181 153
Leona Jackson 97 94 191 147
Sue Stein 95 97 192 146
Gail McDowell 98 96 194 144
Judy Salo 98 96 194 142
Denise Cox 101 101 202 140
Teresa Sibolboro 101 104 205 149
Lorie Baggett 113 97 210 156
Tyler Yamada 85 84 169 155
Jake Eubank 90 80 170 -
Harry Weigle 94 84 178 152
Jack Newell Jr. 92 88 180 154
Max Dye 93 93 189 165
River Calloway 95 100 195 -
Beau Forrest 71 74 145 -
Jesse Scott 84 77 161 143
Darell Jelsma 84 80 164 136
George Stein 89 76 165 139
Mike Hollingsworth 81 85 166 142
Zach Beeson 86 83 169 -
Eddie Sibolboro 84 86 170 156
Lee Frey 88 85 173 141
Pedro McCall 90 92 182 -
Steve Tachick 93 93 186 134
Earl Matthis 100 96 196 152
Gary Dawkins 110 101 211 157
Jack Newell Sr. 103 109 212 182
Donnie Morgan Club Championsip
at Kenai Golf Course
Plyr Sa Su Grs Net
Gilbert Arellano 85 74 159 153
Gordon Griffin 84 81 165 153
Derek Kaufman 81 84 165 147
Chris Murray 82 85 167 153
Todd Eskelin 85 84 169 157
Mark Griffin 85 89 174 160
Doug Jung 89 85 174 160
Rene Alvarez 88 88 176 160
Greg Harrington 92 85 177 165
Ken Liedes 75 81 156 134
Noel Widmayer 86 84 170 146
Dana Bassel 88 87 175 151
Kirk Hyman 89 88 177 153
Jesse Wade 93 88 181 159
Pat Bowen 87 98 185 157
John Gibson 91 101 192 158
Dusty Steinbeck 105 96 201 161