Tony Grimes birdied the 17th hole to earn $1,250 and win the Ninth Annual Wells Fargo All Alaskan Pro Skins Game at Birch Ridge Golf Course in Soldotna Monday.
In the skins game, five pros play each hole. On each hole, there is a different money amount on the line.
The pros played Birch Ridge's back nine. The first three holes were worth $100 each. The next three holes were worth $250 each. The last three holes were worth $500 each.
If the hole does not have a winner, the money carries over to the next hole.
There were ties on Nos. 15 and 16, so when the pros got to the 17th hole, $1,250 was on the line.
Grimes had been having trouble with his driver throughout the round. No. 17 only plays to 180 yards, though, so Grimes was able to keep his driver safely in his bag.
He pulled out a 7-iron and carried what he called a "dinky" shot just to the front of the green. The ball caught a little grass there and trickled to within six feet of the pin.
Grimes knew the putt he had to make for $1,250 well. Earlier in the day, in the Fifth Annual Birch Ridge Golf Course Pro-Am, one of Grimes' playing partners had an identical putt.
Grimes had actually advised the playing partner to aim for the left edge of the cup on the putt, thinking the putt would curl in. The playing partner did as instructed, but the putt stayed straight.
Grimes aimed his $1,250 putt straight at the cup and it went in.
"I got a big assist from that playing partner," Grimes said. "If I would have been seeing that putt for the first time, I would have missed it left."
Grimes said he felt fortunate to come away the winner when he was having so much trouble with his driver.
"That's the nature of the beast when you're playing a skins game," Grimes said. "The guy who's not playing well usually hits a big shot to win it, then the guy playing the best always seems to get tied and comes away with nothing."
It would be hard to decisively say Tom Walsh was the best of any of the pros, but he was playing solid golf and was the only pro to come up empty. Walsh and Grimes both had rounds of 71 in the Pro Am to nab low-round honors.
Bryan Anderson of Moose Run Golf Course was second with $700 in winnings.
Anderson picked up $200 on the par-4, 425-yard 12th. He blasted his tee shot 120 yards from the green, then stuck his approach shot within six feet of the pin and made the putt for a birdie. The next $500 proved much harder for Anderson to earn. He could have had it on the par-4, 350-yard 18th. His drive left him 100 yards out, and his approach shot got him to within six feet of the pin. However, his putt for the skin was wide.
Anderson and Bird Homestead Golf Course's Brian Cupit battled all the way to the sixth hole to determine who would get the $500. Anderson made a par on the par-3 hole, while Cupit had a bogie.
Rich Lundahl, who teaches in Phoenix, was third with $500 in winnings. Lundahl was hitting titanic shots off the tee all day, including a drive on the par-4, 415-yard 16th that left him just 50 yards from the green.
Even with those drives, Lundahl needed a bit of fortune to get his skin. With $500 up for grabs on the par-4 14th, Lundahl hit his drive left and into heavy rough. He clunked his approach shot out of the rough, and the ball somehow bounded to within four feet of the pin. Lundahl tapped in for a birdie and the skin.
Cupit picked up his $100 skin on the par-4, 350-yard 10th hole. His drive left him 100 yards from the green, and Cupit then stuck his approach shot to within three feet of the flag. He tapped in for birdie.
In the Pro Am, the pros had their chance to play their way into the skins game. Lundahl and Anderson had 2-over par 72s to finish tied for third, while Cupit, Rob Nelson and Aaron Dexheimer all finished tied for fifth with 73s. Cupit played his way into the skins game in a playoff.
Tony Azzara was the best amateur in the Pro Am, carding a 74. Matt Matarrese and Josh Lansing both had 76s.
In the handicap portion, Carolyn Turkington was first with a round of 89 and handicap of 29 for a 60, Todd Collum was second with a 92 and 27 for a 65, and Todd Eskelin and John Collum tied for third. Eskelin had a 76 and 7 for a 69, while Collum had a 96 and 27 for a 69.
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