Kenai Golf Course and defending champion Birch Ridge Golf Course are tied at 3 after the first day of the sixth annual Walker Cup. Thursday's alternate shot round, which was played at Kenai, featured six foursomes, a team of two from each course. The competition continues tonight with a best-ball format at Kenai.
At the turn, Kenai held a 4-1 advantage. But Birch Ridge controlled the back nine to even the score.
Birch Ridge's Nolan Rose and Mike Chenault trailed the Homer duo of Chris Moran and Rene Alvarez, representing Kenai, by two after the front nine.
"They were playing really well," Rose said.
Rose said much of the match was tight.
"It really went back and forth," he said.
But Rose and Chenault came back to win 3 and 1. Kenai had the chance to go up three, but missed some putts early on the back nine, Rose said.
"That kept us in the match," he said. "Once we hit the back nine, we just caught fire."
The catalyst for the momentum swing was hole No. 12, Rose said. Rose's drive went left into the trees. Chenault chipped out into the fairway on No. 11. Rose then put a shot over the trees within one foot of the hole, he said.
"We got a lot of momentum from that," Rose said. "They let us hang around too long and we got it going, and it was all she wrote."
The father-son pairing of Mark and Gordon Griffin defeated Mike Hollingsworth and Jay Kriner 6 and 5. The Griffins were 4-up through nine holes.
"We were just playing steady golf," Gordon said. "Mark and I were just hitting the ball straight and making putts."
The Kenai pairing of Truckee LeMay and Tommy Carver, who were 7-up at the turn, defeated Beau Forrest and Daryl Weaver 5 and 4.
Chris Murray and Doug Jung, playing for Kenai, also won 5 and 4, defeating Gary Stackhouse and Mike Rose. Murray and Jung were up two after nine holes.
Birch Ridge's George Stein and Mark Azzara, who were 4-up at the turn, beat Bob Sizemore and Todd Eskelin 4 and 3.
The Birch Ridge pair of Paul Zimmerman and Aaron Andrews won 4 and 2 over John Dahlgren and Craig Jung. The teams were even through nine holes.
Gordon, Kenai's team captain, said his team typically trails after the first day of competition. He said he was looking to get away from that history this year.
"We've always been down after the first day," he said. "Our goal was to just simply win today."
Win or lose, Gordon said the event is one he looks forward to.
"It's just great competition between the two clubs," he said.
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