Weather be darned.
There was golf to be played at the Fourth Annual Kenai Chrysler Classic at the Kenai Golf Course. The rain that greeted golfers did not keep Anchorage's Bryan Anderson from leading after the first round of professional play with a score of even-par 72. Nor did it keep Kasilof's Mark Matarrese from leading the amateur field, shooting a 78, and keeping up with the big boys.
"I won it last year and I want to win it this year," Matarrese said of the amateur field. "But my goal is to compete with the pros."
He got his wish, pulling into a three-way tie for fourth place with professionals Jim Hennessy, Bob Nelson and last year's pro winner Billy Bomar. Matarrese said he fared well on the day but, like many of the overall field of 62 amateur and professional players, caught a bad break on the 11th hole.
"I was 1-under coming into 11, but I had a bad swing off the tee box," he said. "I hit with a driver and it double-crossed me."
He ended up hitting wide right into the woods on the 534-yard green for bogey.
"It just takes one bad swing," he said. "You miss the fairway and you pay for it."
Matarrese bogeyed three holes in a row on the back nine, taking extra strokes on 11, 12 and 13. But he said the rain didn't spoil the course for him, however.
"The course played well," he said. "It looks like rain tomorrow, so it'll be really interesting."
Proceeds from the tournament will go the Kenai Peninsula College's vocational program and to the Kenai Chamber of Commerce. The top 14 professional finishers will win the purse with the top finisher taking 22 percent of the pot.
Anderson shot 36s on the front and back nines and took a four-stroke lead over recent Kenai transplant, Paul Carriel, who held second place in the pro ranking with 76. Anderson, a six-year pro golfer from Anchorage, said his score was an accomplishment considering the weather.
"Any time it rains or the wind blows, anything under 76 is good," he said. "This is a hard course, anyway."
Anderson also fell prey to hole 11, a hole only six players out of the total field were able to birdie. He bogeyed the hole after getting what he said was a good jump off the tee.
"I hit a great drive with a 3-wood pin-high," Anderson said. "The trees are so close to the right it's a scary hole. I took my five and ran."
He said his philosophy for victory is to attack the course, and he won't be looking to only protect his lead today.
"On this golf course, no lead is safe," Anderson said. "You can't try to play it safe. You've got to play aggressive."
Carriel said a conservative game would be key to winning the tournament, which will tally the best of both day's gross scores.
"You can't attack," he said. "You have to be patient with the course. Tomorrow I'm just going to allow the golf course to come to me."
Carriel said taking it easy suits him well after recovering from a car wreck four months ago in Scottsdale, Ariz., that left injuries to his lower back and throat.
"This is just the sixth set of golf in five months," he said. "It's just good to be able to play."
Zac Gavlac tied for third with James Contreras, Curt Zander and Chris Wright. Gavlac, of Palmer, said he took one on the chin on the 11th hole as well.
"I've driven it perfect there every day," he said. "It's my second shot. I keep going for the green and it's really tight on the right-hand side. I'm not going for the green tomorrow."
Shirley Hartman, of Anchorage, finished ahead in the ladies field with a 95, just a stroke ahead of Kenai's Rita Botelho. Hartman said the competition was secondary to the fun, and she did not let the rainfall deter her from enjoying herself as she goes into today's play.
"I'll approach tomorrow the same way as today," she said. "Just have fun."
Hartman echoed the sentiments of many other golfers when she said the course wasn't easy.
"This course could eat you alive," she said.
In a Friday pro-am round, 10-year pro golfer Rob Nelson, of Lafayette, La., set the course record shooting a 68. The record of 69 was set by Tony Grimes in 2000. Nelson's game Saturday, however, was not up to par with his earlier performance.
"Yesterday was way different than today," he said. "I didn't do anything right today. I actually thought I hit the ball better today than yesterday. But yesterday it just kept going in. It's just Kenai. I think I hurt the course's feelings."
Contreras scored one of the two eagles on the eighth hole, the only two on the day. The 15-year Anchorage pro said he needed to rebound from a quadruple bogey on 6.
"I just played it," he said. "I hooked it with a 4-iron."
Contreras won first place in "Grip It & Rip It," the long-ball contest on hole 8 with a $750 first prize to professionals. He hit a 283-yard shot in the final round of the contest, beating out Nelson who had the longest drive of the day in the first round with a 298-yard swing.
Kenai's Shawn Anderson won the amateur contest and took home a new driver.
Nelson said he appreciated the work that was put into bringing the tournament together, and he was happy about the condition of the course.
"What a fantastic tournament," he said. "The community has really come out for this. And the course is fantastic as compared to last year."
Today's tee times start at 8 a.m. The forecast calls for more rain.
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