Birch Ridge's Aaron Dexheimer defeated Moose Run's Bryan Anderson in a playoff to defend his Kenai Invitational Pro-Am crown on Sunday at Kenai Golf Course.
Dexheimer's second title in the event's second year was made possible by clutch play on the 18th hole, a 365-yard par 4. Dexheimer birdied the 18th to get into the playoff. Both players made par on the par-3 10th hole to start the sudden-death playoff. Then Dexheimer made par, while Anderson had a bogey, on the 18th.
Dexheimer won $750 for defending his title, while Anderson settled for $650.
The tournament, a one-day event, uses the Arizona scoring system instead of regular stroke play. In that system, a player gets four points for eagle, three points for birdie, two points for par and one point for bogey.
Both Dexheimer and Anderson scored a 35 on their rounds, while Billy Bomar and Rich Lundahl scored 34 to tie for second and each earn $500.
Both Bomar and Lundahl were both in great shape to make it into the playoff and possibly win outright. Bomar made two pars and two bogeys on his last four holes, including a par on the par-5 16th hole. Both Anderson and Dexheimer were able to birdie No. 16.
Lundahl could have won the event with a par on the 18th hole, and he could have made the playoff with a bogey. The second shot on the 18th features a long carry over a hazard, and Lundahl said he thought he hit his approach perfectly. Nobody in his group ever saw the ball come down.
"It was deceptively long," Lundahl said of the 18th after watching both Anderson and Dexheimer come up short of the green in the playoff. "It was probably a half club longer than what everybody thought.
"I wish I had my barometer out to know why that was. Maybe because it was so balmy. I don't know."
Assuming the ball had landed in the hazard, Lundahl went to the drop area and chipped up to 7 feet, where he missed the bogey putt that would have put him in the playoff.
Dexheimer was playing with Anderson, so Dexheimer said he knew his title defense was in serious trouble when he bogeyed the par-4 17th hole to fall one behind Anderson. On No. 17, Dexheimer put his drive in such a bad spot in the trees that he had to take an unplayable lie and move 60 yards back to take his drop.
Dexheimer made up for that bogey with an approach shot on No. 18 that nestled 5 feet from the pin and set up his birdie.
The playoff on No. 10 started with Dexheimer putting his tee ball over the green, while Anderson put his shot on the green about 25 feet from the hole.
"That was a horrible shot," Dexheimer said of his tee ball. "I was lucky it was where it was and I had a shot."
Dexheimer played his chip to within 4 feet, while Anderson missed his putt. Both tapped in pars to move to the 18th.
Anderson, who had three birdies and an eagle on the back nine to make up for going 4-over through the first three holes of the tournament, couldn't continue his hot play on the 18th. His approach shot was about 20 feet short and right of the green, just clearing the hazard. Dexheimer was only 4 feet short of the green.
Anderson's chip was then about 7 feet short of the hole.
"I hit it where I wanted to," he said of the chip. "It just checked up. I thought it was going to roll out more."
Dexheimer was a half foot short of chipping in for birdie. He tapped in his par. Anderson's bid to keep the playoff alive lipped out on the left side of the hole.
After losing in a playoff to Anderson in the Palmer Invitational two weeks ago, Dexheimer said it was nice to get revenge on one of the courses he grew up playing as a kid. Dexheimer has now won two of the professional events he entered in Alaska this season. He finished second in two others.
"I'm glad we at least have an event back in Kenai," Dexheimer said. "Before last year, we hadn't had one here in a couple of years and we really missed it."
Lundahl, who organized the tournament, said he would like to draw more sponsorship money next year and turn the tourney into at least a two-day event.
The amateur event was handicapped. Todd Eskelin won with a 39, while Mark Griffin was second with 36. The amateur closest to the pin went to Chris Murray, while the professional closest to the pin went to Joe Butler. There also was a putting contest. The pro winner was George Collum, while the amateur winner was Nolan Rose.
Kenai Invitational Pro-Am
at Kenai Golf Course
Aaron Dexheimer, $750 35
Bryan Anderson, $650 35
Rich Lundahl, $500 34
Billy Bomar, $500 34
Rob Nelson, $350 30
Brandon Kaiser, $200 28
James Contreras, $200 28
John McBride, $200 28
Travis Jorgenson 25
George Collum 25
Joe Butler 23
Bill Engberg 19
Todd Eskelin 39
Mark Griffin 36
Zac Cowan 33
Ken Liedes 33
Gordon Griffin 32
Derek Kaufman 31
Nolan Rose 30
Chris Murray 30
Bill Iverson 30
Truckee LeMay 29
Marcus Dolesji 29
Stan Pitlo 29
James Kopcha 29
Milo Natwick 28
James Englund 27
Pete Stokes 25
Pat Cowan 25
Jason Kincannon 25
Jason Kimmel 24
Tom Walsh 23
Cortland Quarles 18
Rich Edwards 17
J. Walter Meyer 13
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