16-year-old Soldotna golfer Josh Lansing fired a 74 to take a seven-stroke lead into the final day of the Peninsula Amateur golf championship Saturday at Birch Ridge Golf Course in Soldotna.
Lansing said his sparkling round could have been better, had a tough pin placement and a couple bad breaks on the seventh hole hold not inflated his score.
Golfers must play each hole at Birch Ridge twice, and having to go through seven again didn't help Lansing's score. He had a double-bogey and bogey on his two trips through.
"The pin placement was tough," he said, though hitting into the woods on his first attempt didn't help matters much, either.
"Three strokes on that one hole," he mused.
Course owner Pat Cowan said he purposely made the seventh hole a bit of a challenge for golfers, who played under sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s.
"I figured, if I can't be out there..." Cowan joked from the clubhouse.
He did say he'd make the seventh a bit easier for Sunday's final round, though the course may still play a bit tougher.
"We'll lengthen the golf course tomorrow," he said. "The seventh is the only (pin placement) I'll move," he said.
That should come as a welcome change to Lansing, who consistently hit the ball long and straight Saturday. His putter was working fine as well, as he demonstrated on hole 14, dropping a tricky downhill birdie putt from 15 feet away.
"That's how you stop it," remarked Lansing's playing partner Norton Dablemont, who had missed a similar putt just before Lansing made his.
Josh Lansing tees off on the 14th Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"I gave him the read," Dablemont joked.
Lansing then followed up with a tee shot on the par-3 15th which ended up within 5 feet of the cup, prompting Lansing's other playing partner, George Stein to claim he was playing to the media coverage.
"Turn the cameras on, and he turns it on," Stein joked.
It's unlikely the soft-spoken Lansing was playing for publicity though. According to others who played Saturday, the Soldotna teen prefers to let his game do his talking.
"He's really becoming a good player, and he's a lot of fun to play with," said Tom Allison, who shot an 84 Saturday playing in the group just behind Lansing's. "A real nice kid, too."
If Lansing can maintain his cool through Sunday's final round, the lanky teen should have a good shot at taking home his first Peninsula Amateur Championship.
On the women's side of things, perennial favorite and longtime area golfer Rita Bothelho's round was not nearly as smooth as the young phenom's.
Bothelho called Saturday's round of 94 the worst she'd ever played at the Soldotna course.
"I just did not play well out there," a bemused Bothelho said while tallying up her score.
She said there were no excuses for her poor performance, just an overall lack of execution in both the long and short game.
"I'm not really quite sure what it was today," she said. "Just trying to force things too quickly I think."
Still, Bothelho will remain in the hunt for the title Sunday, as leader Lisa Parker, entered the clubhouse with a two-stroke lead, shooting a 92.
If she does make an adjustment, Bothelho said she'll make more of an effort on the putting surface. She said Birch Ridge's greens were in immaculate shape, and their speed may have thrown her off a bit. The greens in Kenai, where Bothelho normally plays, have tended to be much slower this year.
"(Birch Ridge has) got nice greens," she said. "They're just so much faster here."
Saturday and Sunday at Birch Ridge Golf Course, Soldotna
Championship Flight 1. Joshua Lansing, 74; 2. (tie) Gerald Winkler, 81; 2. (tie) Jay Kriner, 81; 4. (tie) Jeff Hetrick, 84; 4. Mike Hollingsworth, 84; 6. Zach Cowan, 86; 7. Tom Allison, 87.
First Flight 1. Marty Arnoldy, 82; 2. Morris Redford, 83; 3. (tie) Gary Stackhouse, 85; 3. (tie) Darell Jelsma, 85; 5. Kirk Hyman, 87; 6. (tie) George Stein, 90; 6. (tie) Norton Dablemont, 90; 8. Gene Friendshuh, 95; Aaron Andrus, 83.
Second Flight 1. Dave Keating, 92; 2. Don McGhee, 95; 3. Gary Dawkins, 96; 4. Dave Stein, 98; 5. John Lansing, 109; 6. Jason Elson, 114.
Championship Flight 1. Lisa Parker, 92; 2. Rita Botelho, 94; 3. Sharon Keating, 111.
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