Birch Ridge holds onto Walker Cup

Posted: Monday, July 27, 2009

Birch Ridge Golf Course defeated Kenai Golf Course 7-5 in the singles matches on Sunday at Birch Ridge Golf Course to win the fifth annual Twin Cities Walker Cup, 14-10.

Birch Ridge now holds a 3-1-1 edge over Kenai in the annual event pitting the top players from the two courses against each other in a day of alternate shot, a day of best ball and a day of singles matches. This is the first time that Birch Ridge was able to win the cup on its own course.

Birch Ridge took a 5-1 lead in Thursday's alternate shot, but Kenai came back to take the best ball 4-2 on Friday. That left Kenai in a 7-5 hole heading into Sunday's 12 singles matches.

"It's just a case where Soldotna played better than we did," said Kenai captain Gordon Griffin. "They were tough. Five to one is a big hole to come back from."

Kenai managed to keep it interesting, but Birch Ridge's Paul Zimmerman defeated Doug Jung 1-up on the second-last match on the course to clinch the cup. Zimmerman and Jung were even going into the 17th hole, but Zimmerman got up and down for pars on Nos. 17 and 18 to close out Jung.

Birch Ridge finished off the victory when Marty Arnoldy defeated Jim Bradford 1-up in the last match of the day.

Earlier in the day, both Zac Cowan and Taylor Jackson finished off 3-0 performances in this Walker Cup. Gary Stackhouse was 2-0 for Birch Ridge, but he couldn't play Sunday due to a knee injury sustained on Sunday morning.

Cowan, giving up three shots due to handicap, defeated Chris Murray 2-up.

"He's a very fine player," Murray said. "He hit the ball really well. He had a few tough holes, but otherwise he just played great golf. I just hung in there and battled."

Cowan learned his game in Birch Ridge's junior program and now is in the Professional Golf Association Golf Management Program at New Mexico State University.

"It's always a big deal between these two little-town rivals," Cowan said. "I played very well this whole week. I was hitting the ball very solid."

Jackson, another product of Birch Ridge's junior program, topped Craig Jung two holes up with one to play. Jackson said he gave up five shots to Jung. He said the key to the match was that he was able to win one of the holes where Jung got an extra stroke. Jackson, a recent graduate of Soldotna High School, will attend Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Colo., next year.

Birch Ridge also received victories from Mike Chenault, Mike Azzara and Mike Hollingsworth.

Chenault defeated Derek Kaufman 6 and 5. Chenault said the difference in the match is that he was able to find the fairway off the tee box and Kaufman missed a bunch of fairways.

Azzara topped John Dahlgren 7 and 6. Dahlgren started with a birdie and a par, but his tee shot ended up on a tree root on the third hole. Dahlgren said he picked the ball clean off the root, but the ball hit another root and came back and hit him squarely in the forehead, drawing blood. Dahlgren was never the same, losing the next six holes.

Birch Ridge captain Tom Walsh pinpointed Hollingsworth's victory as one of the day's key matches.

Sizemore said he fired a 5-over 75, while Hollingsworth shot a 79. Sizemore gave up four strokes on the day.

The two were even going into the 17th hole, but Sizemore lost the hole when he was chipping out of the deep rough and hit the ball twice. Hollingsworth then birdied the 18th hole to close out the match. Hollingsworth also had long birdie putts on Nos. 6 and 13.

For Kenai, Truckee LeMay finished up a 3-0 Walker Cup by topping Nolan Rose 3 and 2. LeMay got six strokes, but he said even without a handicap he would have been even with Rose on No. 16 when the match ended. Derek Crowder also finished undefeated for Kenai with a 2-0 record. He did not play Sunday due to his low handicap.

Kenai's other victories came from Tommy Carver, Rene Alvarez, Chris Morin and Todd Eskelin.

Carver defeated Jay Kriner, who filled in for Stackhouse, 3 and 2. Carver had a four-hole lead after No. 12, then lost Nos. 13 and 14 before steadying himself for the win.

Alvarez topped George Stein 6 and 5.

"He shot really well -- that's my excuse," Stein said.

Morin topped Aaron Andrus 8 and 7.

"I had a good day," Morin said. "I just didn't get in trouble and I was able to beat a good player."

Eskelin topped Eddie Sibolboro 1-up. The two were even going into the last hole, but Eskelin got a par and Sibolboro took a side trip through the trees in shooting a six.

Twin Cities Walker Cup

Sunday at Birch Ridge

Birch Ridge 7, Kenai 5

Mike Chenault, BR, def. Derek Kaufman, 6 and 5; Mike Azzara, BR, def. John Dahlgren, 7 and 6; Truckee LeMay, Ken, def. Nolan Rose, 3 and 2; Zac Cowan, BR, def. Chris Murray, 2-up; Tommy Carver, Ken, def. Jay Kriner, 3 and 2; Rene Alvarez, Ken, def. George Stein, 6 and 5; Taylor Jackson, BR, def. Craig Jung, 2 and 1; Chris Morin, Ken, def. Aaron Andrus, 8 and 7; Todd Eskelin, Ken, def. Eddie Sibolboro, 1-up; Mike Hollingsworth, BR, def. Bob Sizemore, 2-up; Paul Zimmerman, BR, def. Doug Jung, 2-up; Marty Arnoldy, BR, def. Jim Bradford, 1-up.

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