The Walker Cup is back as the Peninsula Cup. Jeff Hetrick got the newly named event started with a bang Wednesday at Kenai Golf Course.
Hetrick, playing for Birch Ridge, jarred a hole-in-one at the par-3 10th. Hetrick was the first one in his group to tee off, and the tee box at No. 10 is the closest to the clubhouse, so it’s very possible the first shot of the event was a hole-in-one.
The Peninsula Cup is a contest that pits Kenai Golf Course against Birch Ridge in a Ryder Cup-style event that includes four ball, alternate shot and singles. The event used to be called the Walker Cup and was played until 2014, at which time Kenai had a 5-4-1 lead.
Kenai took a 4-2 lead after the first day of play. There will be six more points available Friday in alternate shot and 12 more available in Sunday’s singles.
Wednesday’s format was four ball. In this format, in each group, each of four players plays his ball for the entire hole. The player with the best score at the end of the hole wins that hole for his team of two.
“When you play this format, you go for it,” Hetrick said of his approach on the 142-yard hole. “It was the perfect yardage for an 8-iron.”
When Hetrick hit the ball, he knew it would be close. But he had to rely on partner Trevor Baldwin for the official word.
“I heard it hit the pin, and Trevor said it went in,” Hetrick said. “I don’t see that well anymore.”
The ace was the third in Hetrick’s career, though the last one came 30 years ago in Oregon. The other came in Maryland.
Like all competitors, Hetrick, who is from Moose Pass, was glad to see the event return.
“I drove over for this,” he said. “I like this kind of event. I like the team competition.”
Hetrick and Baldwin lost 2 and 1 (two holes down with one to play) to Kenai’s Todd Eskelin and Jerry Norris.
Hetrick said his team was down three holes at one point and came back to tie it up, but then went down again.
Kenai also got a 6 and 5 victory from Aaron Cooper and Tom Reese against Mike Hollingsworth and Darell Jelsma.
“It was good competition out there,” Cooper said. “Those guys played well. If it wasn’t for a few missed putts, we’d still be playing.”
Also for Kenai, Bill Davis and Kirk Hyman topped Pedro McCall and Mike Rose 3 and 2; and Chris Morin and Noel Widmayer topped Bill Engberg and Jake Eubank 2 and 1.
Zac Cowan and C.J. Henley got Birch Ridge in the winners column with a 4 and 2 triumph against Jason Woodruff and Rene Alvarez. Cowan is a pro who owns Birch Ridge with his wife, Anna Cowan. Pros were not allowed in the old format, while this new format allows each course to use two pros.
Cowan said the key to the match was he put his driver away and started getting the ball in the fairway.
“It’s good to have camaraderie back between the two courses,” Cowan said. “The industry and the towns are too small for us to be segregated.”
Birch Ridge’s other victory came from George Stein and Max Conradi, who topped Charlie Kahakauwila and Mike Kebschull 2 and 1.
The event continues with alternate shot at 5:00 p.m. Friday and concludes with singles play at 11 a.m. Sunday. All play is at Kenai Golf Course.