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Russ Moen of Bemidji qualified with a 154 in the Birchmont Executive Championship division and will begin his match-play action today against Jay Pietig of Missouri. MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER

2013 BIRCHMONT EXECUTIVE DIVISION: Moen awaits beginning of match-play

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BEMIDJI -- The Executive Championship division preliminaries are over and now the fun begins, at least according to Russ Moen of Bemidji who qualified for today's first-round of match-play with a 36-hole score of 154.

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"The first goal of Birchmont week is to make the cut and, for me, the tournament actually begins on Wednesday," Moen said. "I love match-play. I think it is more relaxing than medal play. Today's (Tuesday's) round was a grind just trying to keep it together. But in match-play if you lose a hole that's all you lose and then you move on."

Moen struggled to an 81 in Tuesday's second day of Executive qualifying but his 73 during Monday's opening 18 holes gave him a buffer going into the second day.

"You can't qualify on the first day but you can put yourself into a position where you have some room to play with," Moen said. "Monday's 73 was the best qualifying round I ever had. I had three birdies and shot 35 on the front side and that put me at ease for the rest of the round.

"But on Tuesday I had to grind out a 38 on the front and then I let things slip a bit on the back," he continued. "The good thing about Tuesday was that I knew I was in a good position heading into the second day of qualifying."

In today's first round of match-play Moen will face Jay Pietig of Lees Summit, Mo. Pietig qualified with rounds of 80-81-161.

The top seed in the Executive division is defending champion Lee Hetletved of Grand Forks. He will open his defense against Rick Barrett of Red Lake who qualified with a 167.

The Executive medalist is Aaron Burnside of Detroit Lakes who put together a pair of great rounds. An ace on No. 2 during Monday's round highlighted a 74 and on Tuesday he played well all day from tee to green and shot 75. His 36-hole score of 149 was a shot better than the 150s posted by Brian Knudson of Alden and Dale Finck of Bertha.

Moen has reached the age where he could play in the Senior Championship field but there is something he wants to accomplish before he jumps to the next division.

"My goal is to win the Executives before I move to the Seniors," Moen said. "I've been in the Executive semifinals three times, including two years ago, but I've never made the final and I've never won the tournament.

"I could play in the Seniors if I wanted to but I haven't finished my business in the Executives. And I'm a little bit stubborn," he added.

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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