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Katie Sheetz successfully defended her Birchmont Women’s crown, outgunning Emily Israelson in 21 holes in Saturday’s championship match. (Pat Miller | Bemidji Pioneer)

Birchmont: Sheetz captures second straight Women’s title

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BEMIDJI -- A year ago Katie Sheetz of Grand Rapids made her debut in the Women’s Championship division of the Birchmont and captured the title.

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This week Sheetz, who plays her collegiate golf at UM-Crookston, kept her unbeaten streak in Birchmont play alive as she successfully defended that title by outlasting Emily Israelson of Staples 1-up in 21 holes in the Women’s championship match.

“I’m relieved,” Sheetz said after the marathon victory. “Nothing came easily this week and on Saturday, every time I thought I had enough of a lead, Emily would come back at me.”

On way to her title Sheetz had to weave through a talented field that included Birchmont veterans Missy Tabery and Jenna Palmiscno. And, after downing Tabery 2 and 1 and Palmiscno 3 and 1, Sheetz was matched against one of the young-guns of the Women’s Championship field in Israelson.

Sheetz opened a 3-up lead after eight holes but Israelson fought back and, when Sheetz was left of the green on her approach to No. 18 and couldn’t manage the up-and-down, Israelson forced overtime with her par.

On the first extra hole Israelson drained a 4-foot par putt to extend the match.On No. 2 Sheetz scrambled for bogey but Israelson gave her new life when she missed her 5-foot putt for par.

“There was give-and-take by both of us during the match, and especially in the extra holes,” Sheetz said. “On No. 2 I thought it was over but Emily missed the putt so we kept going.”

Both combatants found the trees to the left of the No. 3 fairway with their tee shots and both had to punch back out. Sheetz eventually was able to card a 5 on the hole and, when Israelson’s bogey putt came up short, the match ended.

“Coming in last year I didn’t know what to expect but after playing and winning last summer, I knew it was possible for me to win again this year,” Sheetz said. “But I knew I would have to earn it because of the talented golfers in this tournament.”

Hasselberg wins Executive title

In 2013 Derek Hasselberg of Princeton was on the losing side of the Executive Championship hand shake as Lee Hetletved won the match 4 and 3.

Saturday, however, Hasselberg was able to enjoy that ritual as he took an early lead and continued to apply the pressure on way to a 3 and 1 victory over Brad Anderson of Staples.

“I played very solid golf,” Hasselberg said of Saturday’s performance. “Brad didn’t make many mistakes. He just had a couple of putts that didn’t drop. And I made some critical putts that I was missing earlier in the week.”

Hasselberg fashioned a 3-up lead at the turn after posting a 3-under-par 33. On the back-nine he was content to make pars and a steady diet of routine shots was enough to preserve the win.

“I love this tournament and I wish we could play another week,” Hasselberg said. “This is my favorite week of the year.”

Wiltse rallies to win Seniors

Among the buzz going around the Bemidji Town and Country Club grounds the past week was the stellar play of Ray Sauer in the Senior Championship division. And among the highlights of Saturday’s play was Jeff Wiltse’s comeback against Sauer in the title match.

“I was down three after three holes,” Wiltse said. “And all I could do after that was hang in there.”

Wiltse did hang in and his par on No. 18 forced extra holes. Wiltse then won the match on the 19th hole when Sauer found the trees with his tee shot and couldn’t save par.

“We tied many of the holes but I was 3-down with four holes to go,” Wiltse said. “But I was able to win No. 15 with a birdie and No. 17 and No. 18 with pars. And then on the first extra hole Ray was in the trees and the best he could do was bogey.

“I couldn’t make a putt early and Ray is a very savvy golfer who knows how to compete. I have to admit that I was fortunate to win,” Wiltse added.

After digging the 3-down hole, Wiltse said he was able to relax and play his game.

“I was less nervous being behind than I was being ahead in some of my matches this week,” he said. “I knew what I had to do and I was able to do it.

“I was happy to win but Saturday’s outcome was a double-edged sword because I was facing a good friend and a great competitor. It’s too bad someone had to lose.”

Masters, Junior Championships

Jim Archer of Prairie Village, Kan. ruled the roost in the Masters division as he coasted to a 5 and 4 victory over two-time defending champion Joe Mayer of Bemidji in Saturday’s final.

Archer opened a 3-up lead at the turn and Mayer was unable to make up the lost ground.

In the Junior Championship final, Brady Wright of International Falls took the lead against Keaton Wolf of Grand Forks with a birdie on No. 4 and he never looked back, eventually winning 3 and 1.

Wright upped his advantage to 2-up at the turn and settled the issue by winning No. 10 and No. 11 with pars.

 
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