Carolyn Buxton took up the game of golf seven years ago as a way of spending time with her husband, Paul.
These days, the couple is spending time together atop the leader board at the Peninsula Amateur. Both led their championship flights after the second day of the three-day tournament Saturday at Birch Ridge Golf Course.
While Paul has just three strokes on the rest of the field, Carolyn has a 20-stroke margin on the women's field -- an outlandish lead even by Tiger Woods standards.
"We've relived a few of our shots together over the past couple hours," said Carolyn Saturday night.
Chances are, the shots that were relived were not booming drives. The pair both used solid short games to take their leads at the tournament.
"We're not long-ball hitters," Carolyn said. "A lot of the people we play with hit farther than we do. We both have to rely on our short games."
Paul, a Soldotna dentist, had a 5-over 69 Saturday and heading into today's final round, he has a three-stroke lead on Nolan Rose and a five-stroke lead on Rob Smithwick.
"Smithwick, Rose, (Joe) Blanchard, all those guys can hit the ball 40 or 50 yards farther than I can," Buxton said. "I just try to keep it in the fairway, hit straight shots and make my putts.
"My short game and putting have been really good."
Notably absent at the top of the leader board are Todd Smith and Tim Walsh, who have combined to win 10 of the last 11 Peninsula Amateurs. Tom Walsh, the pro at Birch Ridge and father of Tim, said the two have moved from the peninsula and couldn't make it to the tournament due to work.
"If they were here, you know they'd be leading it," said Buxton, who is playing in the Peninsula Amateur for the seventh year. "I really, with my handicap, should be in the first flight."
Rose, a 17-year-old who will be a senior at Skyview this fall, said the length of Buxton's tee shots doesn't hurt him as much at Birch Ridge as it would on other courses.
"You don't really need length to do well in Soldotna," he said. "In Kenai, it definitely helps, but in Soldotna it doesn't make that much of a difference.
"Plus, he never misses the fairway."
Meanwhile, Rose said he has taken some costly detours from the fairway. He said he'll have two good holes, then make a terrible shot that costs him two or three strokes.
"My putting's been awesome, I'm just not hitting the ball well," he said. "If it weren't for my putting, a lot of pars would have been bogeys or double bogeys. I've just got to get the sticks going."
While Carolyn Buxton said the rest of the field could still win, the other three women that make up the Championship Flight aren't counting on it. Buxton's closest pursuer is Lynne Reynolds and she was considering seeing a doctor Saturday night due to the pain in her left hand caused by a bee sting.
Reynolds was stung about a week ago and her hand is still noticeably swollen. She said it feels numb at times and the pain goes all the way up to her wrist.
"It's going to be really hard to catch her," Reynolds said of Buxton. "She's have to play really, really, really bad."
In other action, Mike Hollingsworth has an 11-stroke lead in the men's first flight with a two-day total of 164, Helen Chenault has a six-stroke lead in the women's first flight with a two-day total of 196 and Don McGhee has a 15-stroke lead in the men's second flight with a two-day total of 180.
at Birch Ridge Golf Course
Men's championship flight
Paul Buxton 74-78 -- 152
Nolan Rose 76-79 -- 155
Rob Smithwick 81-76 -- 157
Joe Blanchard 80-84 -- 164
Gerald Winkler 84-83 -- 167
Matt Matarrese 84-84 -- 168
Mike Chenault 86-84 -- 170
Tom Allison 87-89 -- 176
Bob Bird 84-96 -- 180
Women's championship flight
Carolyn Buxton 90-89 -- 179
Lynne Reynolds 99-100 -- 199
Lisa Parker 104-100 -- 204
Barb Winkler 102-111 -- 213
Men's first flight
Mike Hollingsworth 83-81 -- 164
Bob Fenimore 88-87 -- 175
George Stein 89-87 -- 176
Mo Redford 93-83 -- 176
Tony Azzara 86-93 -- 179
Scott Jackson 88-92 -- 180
Jay Kriner 89-96 -- 185
Mike Manger 94-92 -- 186
Josh Lansing 85-102 -- 187
Dustin Jung 99-90 -- 189
John Davis 96-96 -- 192
Dave Keating 100-101 -- 201
Women's first flight
Helen Chenault 96-100 -- 196
Teresa Connoley 103-99 -- 202
Sharon Keating 111-107 -- 218
Men's second flight
Don McGhee 87-93 -- 180
Phil Turkington 97-98 -- 195
Dick Cockroft 105-91 -- 196
Bob Clapsaddle 99-98 -- 197
Dave Stein 97-103 -- 200
Ron Carlson 106-104 -- 210
Sam Best 106-105 -- 211
John Lansing 105-109 -- 214
Gary Dawkins 99-114 -- 215
Richard Atuk 120-102 -- 222
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