Zumbrota's Matt Anderson parlayed a tremendous short iron game into a 4-and-3 victory over Pat Vincelli of Rosemount to capture the 2009 Birchmont senior division crown Saturday.
"I've really been playing well all week," said Anderson, who started playing in the Bemidji tournament in 1995. "Today, from 100 yards in, I was on fire."
Anderson assured that there would be a new senior division champion this year as he defeated two-time defending champ Jack Seiberlich 4 and 3 in the semifinals.
That set up Saturday's final against Vincelli, an accomplished player competing in his first Birchmont.
Both players started the match solid, halving the first three holes with par. Anderson took his first lead of the match with a birdie on the par-5 No. 4 hole. But he turned around to bogey the fifth and Vincelli took advantage to even the match.
Vincelli then took his one and only lead of the match with a par on No. 6. The advantage didn't last long.
Anderson evened the match with a par on 7. The eighth was halved with pars and Anderson went ahead for good with a birdie on No. 9.
That started a string of four holes for Anderson that turned out to be the decisive stretch of the match. Anderson followed by winning 10 with birdie, 11 with par and 12 with par to build a 4-up lead with just six holes to go.
Anderson then three putted the 13th for bogey and Vincelli made par to cut into the lead. But Anderson then parred to win 14 and regain the 4-up lead with four holes to go.
Vincelli was in a position where he had to make something happen and fast. But it never materialized. Anderson played the par-5, 15th hole to perfection and had a five footer for birdie. Vincelli conceded the putt and the match when his par putt did fall.
Anderson said he started playing in the Birchmont in 1995 and competed in the championship division for one year. He then switched to the executive division and won that title in 1996.
After not playing in the local tournament last year, Anderson decided to make a return this summer. However, he decided to switch to the senior division. "Bob Kobilka and John McEnroe, two longtime executive division players I had gotten to know well, made the move to senior, so I decided to go that route as well," Anderson said.
"I was solid all week. It was a lot of fun."
Anderson uses the Birchmont as a family vacation for his wife and three children. They stay at Kohl's Resort on Big Turtle Lake and the whole family enjoys the week.
"I just love it up here," Anderson reported, "and I love this course. You can shape shots around the trees and it's a really good test of golf.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to keep coming up here for another 15 years."