For the first time, the Twin Cities Walker Cup will be located at the Kenai Golf Course clubhouse for a year.
The Twin Cities Walker Cup, which puts Birch Ridge and Kenai together in alternate shot, best ball and singles matches, is now in its third year. The first year the Walker Cup was contested at Birch Ridge. Since the two courses tied, the Walker Cup stayed at the host course. Last year, Birch Ridge stormed Kenai and held onto the Walker Cup with a 14 1/2 to 9 1/2 victory.
On Sunday, Kenai defeated Birch Ridge 6 1/2 to 5 1/2 in the singles matches to notch a 14-10 victory and finally take possession of the Walker Cup.
“We’re going to put it in the clubhouse where everybody can see it before they play the course,” Kenai captain Tom Carver said.
Carver said the Walker Cup has been a topic of conversation at Kenai all year.
“We’ve been talking about it all year ... ever since they whooped our behinds at home last year,” Carver said. “We didn’t have the exact team nailed down until this week, but everybody has been talking about it.”
Although Kenai ended up winning by a comfortable margin, Birch Ridge made a serious run at the Walker Cup after starting the day in a 7 1/2 to 4 1/2 hole.
“We made it interesting at the end, but they came to play,” Birch Ridge captain Tom Walsh said. “They did well. My hats off to them again.”
Although Birch Ridge won just 5 1/2 points, those 5 1/2 points all came in the first eight matches of the day. Birch Ridge received wins from Mike Chenault, Darrell Jelsma, Tony Azzara, Zack Cowan and Brennan Jackson. The half point came when Birch Ridge’s Mike Azzara and Kenai’s John Dahlgren tied.
“They did a great job,” Carver said of Birch Ridge. “They definitely had me nervous.”
With four matches still in play, the score was 10-all, with Kenai’s victories coming from Billy Applewhite and Jerry Norris. Carver could rest a little easy because Kenai’s Rich Edwards and Noel Widmayer had big leads on the back nine. Making Carver nervous was the fact the Kenai’s Bob Sizemore was four-down to Jay Kriner with seven holes to play and Gordon Griffin was one-down to Jeff Hetrick with nine holes to play. If Sizemore and Griffin lost, the score would be 12-all and the Walker Cup would stay at Birch Ridge.
Sizemore and Griffin both came back on the back nine to beat their opponents and secure the Walker Cup.
Last year Bob Sizemore and his son, Caleb, had played for Birch Ridge in the Walker Cup. The Sizemores teamed up to win both of their matches in the alternate shot and best ball, then Bob won his singles match to help Birch Ridge top Kenai.
This year, the Sizemores played for Kenai. Bob teamed with Todd Eskelin and Caleb teamed with Craig Jung to win in alternate shot, then the Sizemores played together and won the best ball. Bob Sizemore then scored the comeback in the singles matches.
“It was huge,” Carver said of the switch of the Sizemores. “There’s a reason both of their names will be on the trophy again this year.”
Bob Sizemore said he decided to switch courses when Griffin purchased the Kenai Golf Course in the offseason. Sizemore said he is good friends with Griffin. Another reason Sizemore switched courses is Kenai is closer to where he works.
Sizemore said he is happy with the way the Walker Cup is growing.
“I think at first, people were looking at it to see how it would go,” Sizemore said. “Everybody saw how fun it was, and now a lot of people want to play. We’re getting guys with a wide range of handicaps now.”
Carver also said the event will be helped by the history it is generating.
“Like I said, we’re going to put it where they can see it in the clubhouse,” Carver said. “That will have everybody thinking about next year.”
Twin Cities Walker Cup
Singles matches at Birch Ridge
Mike Chenault, BR, def. Doug Jung; Mike Azzara, BR, tied John Dahlgren; Billy Applewhite, K, def. George Stein; Darrell Jelsma, BR, def. Bill Burtrum; Tony Azzara, BR, def. Caleb Sizemore; Jerry Norris, K, def. Todd Eskelin; Brennan Jackson, BR, def. Craig Jung; Gordon Griffin, K, def. Jeff Hetrick; Bob Sizemore, K, def. Jay Kriner; Rich Edwards, Ken, def. Kevin Downs; Noel Widmayer, K, def. Gerry Winkler.
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