Beau Forrest, a 17-year-old who will be a senior at Kenai Central High School this fall, on Sunday at Birch Ridge Golf Course became the first junior in the 34-year history of the Peninsula Amateur to win the Championship Flight.
Forrest had a two-day total of 158 on the par-70 layout at Birch Ridge to defeat Bob Sizemore by two strokes.
"I knew there was some pretty stiff competition, but I've been playing this course pretty good," Forrest said. "Everyone knows everyone, I knew who I was playing against and I knew what to expect."
In order to register his historic victory, Forrest had to overcome a two-stroke deficit to Todd Eskelin on Sunday. Eskelin had a 72 on Saturday while Forrest had a 74. Eskelin was the defending Peninsula Amateur champion and also has won the Donald R. Morgan Memorial Kenai Golf Association Annual Championship the last two years.
Forrest, who was second last weekend in the Junior State Amateur at Anchorage Golf Course, took one stroke off Eskelin on Sunday's front nine. Eskelin had a 42 while Forrest had a 41.
On the back nine, Forrest started to run away from Eskelin. Forrest bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11, but Eskelin double bogeyed both holes and fell a stroke behind. On the par-4 12th, Forrest had a birdie and Eskelin had a bogey as the gap grew to three strokes.
"I felt pretty confident after that birdie on 12," Forrest said.
Forrest said he had 140 yards left to the pin after his tee shot on the 425-yard hole. He said he slightly pulled his approach shot, but got a nice kick to the right. He then knocked down a 5-footer for the birdie.
Eskelin never threatened after that, and Forrest was able to hold off Sizemore for the victory. Sizemore started the day eight strokes behind Forrest and was able to make up six strokes with his 78. He had the low net in the Championship Flight with a 148.
Forrest said coming out on top of a tournament with some of the area's top players, like Eskelin, is great for his confidence.
"It was good, but I kind of felt bad for the guy," Forrest said. "I know how it is to fall apart in a tournament of this nature. It's happened to me plenty of times. So, it was good and bad, I guess you could say."
Forrest was a part of an overall youth movement at the tournament, where seven of the 24 players were juniors. Bill Engberg, the assistant pro at Birch Ridge, said the participation of so many juniors is a positive sign for the future of the tournament.
Engberg said 20 years ago, the Peninsula Amateur was one of the top events in the state, drawing 70 or 80 players. Next year, the senior tournament at Birch Ridge will be rolled into the Peninsula Amateur to increase the field. Engberg said he will work to find other things to get the field bigger and bigger again.
The low gross in the First Flight was Taylor Jackson with a two-day total of 163, while Mick Reeve won the low net with a 46. The low gross for the women was won by Kathy Herring with a 187, while Sharon Keating took the low net with a 158. In the Second Flight, the low gross was Jerry Herring with a 184, while the low net was Brian Herring with a 144.
Beau Forrest 74-84 158
Bob Sizemore 82-78 160
Todd Eskelin 72-91 163
Zach Cowan 82-81 163
Justin Hermann 81-85 166
Brennan Jackson 84-86 170
Derek Crowder 97-83 180
Kegan Kiel WD
Taylor Jackson 78-85 163
Aaron Andrus 83-86 169
Caleb Sizemore 82-92 174
Mick Reeve 94-88 182
Dave Keating 87-98 185
Steve Horn 93-97 190
Truckey Lemay 95-100 195
Jerry Herring 94-90 184
Mike Edwards 94-92 186
Brian Herring 98-96 194
Don McGhee 101-105 206
Gary Dawkins 103-106 209
Tim Bowser 106-104 210
Kathy Herring 90-97 187
Lisa Parker 101-100 201
Sharon Keating 109-117 226
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