Contreras wins Kenai Peninsula Open; Morin is Kenai’s club champ

James Contreras has played enough tournaments at Birch Ridge Golf Course to know winning there isn’t easy.

The Fairbanks Golf Course pro just made it look that way Saturday and Sunday at the Kenai Peninsula Open.

Contreras took home $1,750 with a two-day total of even-par 140 to beat runners-up Nolan Rose and Rob Nelson by 11 strokes.

Palmer’s Rose Pelletier, the co-owner of Fishhook Golf Course, was the low amateur and the women’s division champ, putting up a total of 155. Jesse Scott won the men’s amateur title with a 156.

Contreras has been spending his summers in Alaska as a golf professional since 1996. He has played in a lot of tournaments at Birch Ridge during that time, but he only recalls winning a pro-am with a round of 66 about 10 years ago.

He was spurred to victory in the Open by steady play in Saturday’s windy conditions. Contreras had a 72, while the closest to him was the 75 by Beau Forrest, the former Open amateur champ who was making his debut as a pro.

“I’ve played here a lot, but I don’t ever remember it blowing like that,” Contreras said.

Contreras grew up in Yuma, Arizona, where he said the wind blows a lot due to the Colorado River. While he doesn’t necessarily have the low-ball flight to play in the wind, he said he is quite comfortable in gusty conditions.

“Whenever I hit a solid shot, it was going where I wanted it to,” Contreras said of his Saturday effort.

Sunday, Contreras said he knew a round of even par would likely win the tournament. He said he is comfortable out in front of a tourney, having won the Eagleglen Open four times, and it showed as he filled his card with six birdies to cruise to the win.

“I was making putts, and that helps,” he said. “The greens were fast. They were the best I’ve ever seen them.”

Pelletier, the reigning Alaska State Amateur and Alaska State Match Play Amateur champ, won in her first appearance at Birch Ridge.

She had just a nine-hole practice round from Friday on her Birch Ridge resume before she rolled to the win by 28 strokes over Ardie Crawford. Denise Cox was the women’s net champ at 138.

“I love it,” Pelletier said of Birch Ridge. “I think it’s underrated because it’s a short course. A short course can be more challenging than a long course. It’s a good risk-reward course.”

Pelletier said she was told the women’s record at Birch Ridge is 68. She had her eye on that total, but the wind made it impossible on Saturday, then she couldn’t get enough putts to drop in a round of 74 on Sunday.

Pelletier attended Southern Utah University, where she played golf and graduated after just three years in May 2013. She took about a year off from the game, but she’s moved back to Alaska and is dedicated to running Fishhook with her brother, Ryan, and growing the sport of golf.

“Not playing golf for about a year has made me appreciate it a lot more,” she said.

Pelletier liked the friendly environment at Birch Ridge and said she hopes to return and defend her title.

Kenai’s Scott, at 33, won his first golf tournament. He said the Open was his only chance this summer to taste victory, because he didn’t want to consistently be leaving his wife, Angela, with 2.5-month-old Naomi and 3-year-old Nathan to play tournament golf.

Scott survived Saturday with a round of 80, which left him in second and four strokes behind leader Mike Hollingsworth. Sunday, he had a 76 while Hollingsworth had an 84.

“I felt good,” he said. “It was the best I’ve played in a tournament, except on the last hole. I’m very proud of the way I played.”

Scott’s best round at Birch Ridge is a 71. With a par on the par-4 No. 18, Scott would have had a 73. He was 100 yards out on his second shot when golf did a typically golfy thing.

“I was maybe thinking about getting another skin,” he said. “I got way too ahead of myself.”

Scott skulled his second shot so bad he had to hit another from the same spot. He then three-putted for a triple bogey.

“When I missed a 2-foot putt for double bogey — if that was the difference in the tournament — I would have been sick until next golf season,” he said.

Men’s low net was won by 9-year-old Shane Sundberg. Sunday, Sundberg carded an 87 — his best round ever — to finish with a two-day net of 128. Earl Matthis was second low net at 130.

The low junior was Max Dye with a gross of 174.

The major sponsors for the event are the Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center and the Alaska Men’s Run. Proceeds from the tournament go to the Central Peninsula Health Foundation Prostate Cancer Fund, which goes to education, awareness and patient assistance.

Chris Morin wins Kenai’s club championship

Chris Morin won his first Donald R. Morgan Club Championship at Kenai Golf Course on Sunday with a two-day total of 11-over-par 155.

Morin took advantage of the calmer conditions awarded by a late Saturday tee time in taking the first-day lead with a round of 75. After Saturday, Greg Harrington was next at 78 while Chris Murray had a round of 80.

But Sunday, playing in the same conditions as everybody else, Morin claimed the club championship with a round of 80, the second-lowest round of the day. Joe Deveaux made a nice comeback from Saturday’s 97 with Sunday’s low round of 77.

Harrington and Murray tied for second in gross score with totals of 163. Harrington was the low net at 145, while Aaron Cooper was second at 146, Morin was third at 147 and Deveaux was fourth at 148.

Kenai Peninsula Open

Saturday, Sunday

at Birch Ridge Golf Course (Par 70)

Player Sa Su Grs Net

Pro Division

J. Contreras, $1,750 72 68 140

Nolan Rose, $825 80 71 151

Rob Nelson, $825 78 73 151

Rich Lundahl, $600 86 69 154

Beau Forrest, $600 75 79 154

John McBride, $400 77 78 155

T. Jorgenson, $400 78 77 155

Hunter Blake, $400 80 75 155

George Collum, $200 80 76 156

Bill Engberg, $100 86 75 161

Mark Dolejsi 82 83 164

Jeff Barnhardt 81 90 171

Women’s Division

Rose Pelletier 81 74 155

Ardie Crawford 91 92 183 153

Teresa Sibolboro 100 99 199 147

Marlena McCown 108 94 202 168

Denise Cox 94 110 204 138

Carter Nelson 115 111 226 168

Men’s Amateur

Jesse Scott 80 76 156 144

Mike Hollingsworth 76 84 160 136

CJ Henley 88 82 170 148

Pirtle Bates 88 84 172 138

Eddie Sibolboro 94 79 173 159

John Denny 89 84 173 141

Max Dye 90 84 174 154

Sid Cox 93 84 177 135

Earl Matthis 90 88 178 130

John Gose 92 87 179 163

Curtis Nelson 95 85 180 152

Scott Sundberg 95 86 181 139

Shane Sundberg 95 87 182 128

Tyler Yamada 96 88 184 162

Kerry Collins 102 85 187 137

Bill Toney 89 79 188 154

Pedro McCall 102 93 195 165

Steve Tachick 95 103 198 146

Lee Frey 106 93 199 169

Gary Dawkins 101 106 207 153

Zach Beeson DNF

Marcus Dolejsi DNF

Donald R. Morgan
Club Championship

Saturday, Sunday

at Kenai Golf Course (Par 72)

Player Sa Su Grs Net

Chris Morin 75 80 155 147

Greg Harrington 78 85 163 145

Chris Murray 80 83 163 155

Mike Houghton 82 86 168 150

Doug Jung 86 83 169 153

Todd Eskelin 84 86 170 156

Aaron Cooper 88 82 170 146

Ken Liedes 90 81 171 153

Gordon Griffin 86 87 173 153

Joe Deveaux 97 77 174 148

Rene Alvarez 88 86 174 156

Steve Fickes 89 91 180 148

Chuck Rupenthal 91 89 180 158

Kirk Hyman 89 94 183 163

Skip Dove 94 90 184 156

Roy Wells 93 97 190 158

John Gibson 106 100 206 166

More in Sports

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Owen Hanson and Anchorage Wolverines defenseman Trent Powell battle for the puck Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Wolverines complete sweep of Brown Bears

One of the main purposes of the Kenai River Brown Bears program… Continue reading

Soldotna wrestling nabs Grizzly Shakedown title

The Soldotna girls and boys wrestling teams cruised to the Grace Grizzly… Continue reading

Soldotna hockey topples Kodiak; Juneau tops Kenai

The Soldotna hockey team defeated Kodiak 10-0 in Railbelt Conference action Saturday… Continue reading

Westin scores twice late to push Wolverines past Bears

Aiden Westin of the Anchorage Wolverines scored two goals in the final… Continue reading

Soldotna celebrates a first-period goal by Jace Applehans (far right) on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Prep hockey: SoHi tops Kodiak

The Soldotna hockey team opened Railbelt Conference play with a 9-0 victory… Continue reading

Members of Kenai Central High School Esports gather around coach Shane Lopez before their League of Legends match Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Esports playoffs: Kenai advances through 16-team bracket

High school esports playoffs started in Alaska for the state’s top 16… Continue reading

The Kenai River Brown Bears and Anchorage Wolverines battle for the puck Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Bears close homestand by hosting Wolverines

The Kenai River Brown Bears renew their rivalry with the Anchorage Wolverines… Continue reading

Forests surrounding the Kenai River. (Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Expect the unexpected

Climate change is changing conservation. We used to set goals and objectives… Continue reading

Downtown Seward on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: Something about Seward

There’s something magical about Seward. It’s more than the quaintness of a… Continue reading

Most Read