Birch Ridge golfers put themselves in a comfortable position to defend their crown with a strong showing on the opening day of the Fifth Annual Twin Cities Walker Cup.
In a back-and-forth affair, the squad from Birch Ridge Golf Course captured a 5-1 victory over the Kenai Golf Course team on Thursday in an alternate-shot format at Birch Ridge.
"We were down a little bit then everybody all of a sudden made a comeback," said Birch Ridge professional and team captain Tom Walsh. "We got lucky, but we played steady."
Birch Ridge's George Stein and Mike Hollingsworth defeated Kenai's Tommy Carver and Jerry Norris, 2 and 1. Zac Cowan and Nolan Rose, of Birch Ridge, topped Jim Bradford and Rene Alvarez, 5 and 4. Gary Stackhouse and Jim McWilliams beat Kenai's Bob Sizemore and Derek Kaufman, 2 and 1. Birch Ridge's Mike Chenault and Mike Azzara defeated John Dahlgren and Craig Jung, 2 and 1. And Aaron Andrus and Taylor Jackson edged Kenai's Doug Jung and Todd Eskelin, 2 and 1.
Kenai's lone win came by Derek Crowder and Truckee LeMay, who beat Steve Dexheimer and Jeff Hetrick, 6 and 5.
"There was a lot of close matches. In the end they just played better than we did. Come crunch time they did the job, we didn't," said Kenai captain Gordon Griffin. "It came down to the pivotal holes and they made some key putts and played better than we did."
Griffin said the squad from Kenai traditionally and inexplicably struggles in the alternate-shot portion.
"We've never done this badly, but we've never done well in alternate shot," he said. "I don't know how to explain that but it just happens.
"It easily could have been 3-3, 4-2 and could have swung in our favor if we had played well coming down the stretch," Griffin added. "Take nothing away from those boys from Soldotna, they played real well when they had to."
The competition continues today at 5 p.m. at Birch Ridge with a better-ball format and concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m. with 12 singles matches.
"We're not out of it by any stretch of the imagination," Griffin said. "We'll make those 12 singles matches on Sunday very interesting."
After tying the first-ever event, the teams have alternated championships with Birch Ridge owning a 2-1-1 lead.
"We dug ourselves a little hole, but the goal is to come back tomorrow and cut into the lead and maybe cut it down to two points. If we get it that close, anything can happen on Sunday," Griffin said. "If we can't narrow the gap tomorrow, it's over with."
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