Morin defends Kenai Open crown

Homer’s Chris Morin remains the King of Kenai Golf Course.

Morin’s two-day total of 11-over-par 155 gave him a two-shot victory over Todd Eskelin in the two-day Kenai Open on Sunday.

It was the third-straight Kenai Open title for Morin. Mix in his three straight titles in the Donald R. Morgan Memorial Club Championship, and Morin now has won an unprecedented six straight two-day major titles at Kenai.

“It was competitive and that’s the way it should be,” Morin said. “It’s always nice to run away and make it stress-free, but this makes it more fun.”

Kenai is a course known for its ups and downs, but Morin has made his mark with steady play. Three of his six titles have now come with two-day totals of 155. The other totals have been 156, 158 and 160.

The 160 came last weekend at the Morgan Memorial and was good for an eight-shot win, but that total wouldn’t have gotten the job done this week.

“I was pushed this time,” Morin said.

Both Eskelin and Gilbert Arellano were tied with Morin heading into Sunday’s back nine. Arellano fell to fourth overall with his 47 on the back, but Eskelin was tied with Morin all the way to 18.

With Morin already in the clubhouse, Eskelin needed par on the par-4, 344-yard, dogleg-right 18th to forge a tie.

But on his approach over the 100-yard gulley to the green, Eskelin pulled the ball and it bounced back and ended up in the hazard. He chipped out of the hazard to a tough spot on the green, where he three-putted for the double bogey.

“I tried to swing too hard,” Eskelin said of his ill-fated approach shot. “I played the whole day playing my game, but I took too hard of a swing on that shot.”

As he was playing the 18th, Eskelin said he didn’t know a par would have tied him with Morin.

“I like competing and Chris is a good golfer,” Eskelin said. “But if I get caught up in trying to beat somebody, I don’t play well.”

Morin said he also was pushed by Anchorage’s Scott Woodland, who owns Homer Golf Course. Woodland played with Morin both days and collected seven birdies en route to finishing third at 162.

After taking a one-shot lead over Arellano and a two-shot lead over Eskelin on Saturday due to a 76, Morin said Nos. 8, 9 and 10 on Sunday were key to his title.

On the par-3, 179-yard fifth, Morin took a triple bogey after his tee ball landed in the bunker and he didn’t get on the green until his fourth shot.

That left Morin three strokes behind Arellano and two behind Eskelin.

But he started the climb back with a birdie on the par-5, 470-yard eighth hole despite teeing off with a 4-iron. After a nice save for par on the par-3, 207-yard ninth and a par on the par-3, 126-yard 10th with a tee ball so good it won him closest to the pin, Morin was two shots ahead of Arellano and tied with Eskelin.

“I felt a lot of relief after I realized I was tied,” Morin said of his horse race with Eskelin and Arellano after nine holes. “After that triple bogey on 5, I was looking at a 41 at the front nine.

“That birdie on 8 was really important.”

After Morin had the lowest round Saturday, he shared Sunday’s low at 79 with Eskelin and Doug Jung, who came back strong after opening with a 100. Eskelin won low net at 145, while Mike Houghton was second at 147 and Gordon Griffin was third at 148.

The closest to the pins Saturday went to Griffin on No. 5, Charlie Kahakauwila on No. 9, Woodland on No. 10 and Hougton on No. 14.

Sunday, the snipers were Houghton on No. 5, Kahakauwila on No. 9, Morin on No. 10 and Pat Bowen on No. 14.

Kenai Open

Saturday, Sunday at Kenai Golf Course

Par 72

Player Sa Su Grs Net

Chris Morin 76 79 155 149

Todd Eskelin 78 79 157 145

Scott Woodland 81 81 162 150

Gilbert Arellano 77 86 163 163

Gordon Griffin 81 85 166 148

Mike Houghton 85 86 171 147

Rene Alvarez 89 84 173 155

Charlie Kahakauwila 90 87 177 155

Doug Jung 100 79 179 165

Pat Bowen 93 90 183 149

Kirk Hyman 88 96 184 162

Bobby Bush 89 99 188 156

Mark McComsey 91 97 188 164

Keith Stuart 96 96 192 170

Brian Woodrich 88 87 193 157

Mike Kebschull 102 94 196 172

Tim Hall 102 100 202 174

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