Doug Jung, playing for the Kenai Golf Course, chips onto the second green Friday night during the Twin Cities Walker Cup at Birch Ridge Golf Course.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Birch Ridge Golf Course will have to overcome a 7 1/2 to 4 1/2 deficit today at 2 p.m. at Birch Ridge if it wants to defend the Twin Cities Walker Cup from Kenai Golf Course.
The Twin Cities Walker Cup pits Birch Ridge and Kenai Golf Course against each other in alternate shot, best ball and singles matches. This is the third year of the event.
The first year ended with a 12-all tie at Birch Ridge. Last year, Birch Ridge invaded Kenai Golf Course and notched a 14 1/2 to 9 1/2 victory.
In its victory, Birch Ridge took a 7 1/2 to 4 1/2 lead into the final day and won seven of the 12 singles matches to shut down Kenai. This year, it is Birch Ridge that will have to try and overcome that identical deficit on its home course.
“They just flat outplayed us last year, and this year we’re hoping we can do the same,” said Kenai captain Tom Carver, who played in the Walker Cup last year. “I’d be lying if I said what happened last year didn’t sting a little. We’re hoping to return the favor tomorrow. It’d make it that much sweeter to get it from their house.”
Kenai grabbed its lead by winning Thursday’s alternate shot 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 and Friday’s best ball 4 to 2. The closest, and most pivotal, match on Friday was between Kenai’s Doug Jung and Gordon Griffin and Birch Ridge’s Gary Stackhouse and Mike Hollingsworth.
The match was tied going into the 17th hole, a downhill, 180-yard par 3. Griffin put his tee shot on the green, then drained the putt to win the hole for his team. Griffin and Jung would go on to protect that advantage on the 18th hole.
“From the second he hit that putt, it never wavered,” Carver said. “It was a beautiful shot.”
The putt means Kenai will have a cushion of three instead of two heading into the 12 singles matches today.
“Usually, it comes down to singles like this,” said Birch Ridge captain Tom Walsh. “I wish we were a little closer, but I think we can still do it.
“We’ve been playing good, but they’ve been playing a lot better. Hats off to them.”
Birch Ridge has had a solid junior program for years. Young players were a big part of the victory last year, and Walsh said he hopes Brennan Jackson and Zack Cowan can help carry the team today. Another young player, Tony Azzara, will make his first appearance for the team in this Walker Cup.
Carver said this Walker Cup is far from over.
“Not with so many points available (Sunday),” he said. “I don’t want us to let our guard down. They’ve got a whole group of fantastic players. Three points is not insurmountable.”
Both Walsh and Carver said that, as usual, both teams are having a lot of fun with the format.
“They’ve put on a fantastic tournament,” Carver said. “It’s been great going over there, because we’re all friends. It’s fun to have a little friendly competition.”
Twin Cities Walker Cup
Friday’s best ball results
Bob Sizemore and Caleb Sizemore, KGC, def. Jeff Hetrick and Marty Arnoldy; Billy Applewhite and Bill Burtram, KGC, def. Jay Kriner and Darrell Jelsma; Todd Eskelin and Barry Jackman, KGC, def. Mike Azzara and Mike Chenault; Steve Dexheimer and George Stein, BR, def. Craig Jung and John Dahlgren; Doug Jung and Gordon Griffin, KGC, def. Gary Stackhouse and Mike Hollingsworth; Brennan Jackson and Zack Cowan, BR, def. Rich Edwards and Mike Navarre.
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