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Jenkins, Kvittem win Vandy titles

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Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Jenkins, Kvittem win Vandy titles
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Tom Jenkins and Ross Kvittem overcame three days of strong winds and upper 80 degree temperatures to win championship titles at the 2008 Vandersluis Memorial Golf Tournament Monday.


Bemidji Town and Country Club played tough as three straight days of steady 25 mile per hour winds, with gusts to 35, along with temperatures in the high 80's made for challenging conditions.

Jenkins became the first four time winner in the men's championship field, while Kvittem won his first title in the senior men's championship.

Jenkins ... again

Former Bemidji resident Jenkins has put a stranglehold on the Vandersluis recently, winning for the third time in four years. Jenkins first won the Vandy in 2002, then went back-to-back in 2005 and 2006. He did not play last year, but returned this week to win this fourth title in dominating fashion.

Jenkins lead wire-to-wire, opening with a 5-under 67 on Saturday. He followed up with a 1-under 71 Sunday and posted the same score Monday to end at 7-under 209.

He entered Monday's round with a big six shot lead over three players -- Derek Harris of Fergus Falls, Mitch Mackedanz of Paynesville and Jesse Nelson of Pequot Lakes. Mackedanz, a member of the Bemidji State men's golf team, shot himself into contention with a stellar 67 on Sunday, after opening with a 77.

In the end, Mackedanz did put a bit of pressure on Jenkins in the final round.

After 13 holes, Mackedanz picked up three shots on the leader and trailed by three with five holes to go.

"The nerves kicked in there a bit for me," said Jenkins. "But then I played pretty well coming in."

Both players parred the par 3, 14th hole. Jenkins then hit two near perfect shots on 15 and had a 15 footer for eagle. The putt just missed, but Jenkins extended the lead with a tap in birdie.

After both players parred 16, Mackedanz ran into trouble on 17 and ended with a double-bogey 6. Jenkins all but put the title away there with a birdie.

Jenkins reported he was very happy with his game on all three days of the tournament. "I hit a lot of good shots on Saturday and played really well," he said. "I didn't have any really long putts and was able to make my share."

On Sunday, Jenkins said his putting stroke deserted him a bit. "I struck the ball really well again and could have had another 67," he said. "But I just couldn't make a putt all day. The longest one I made was from about six feet."

With big lead on Monday, Jenkins said he just went out and tried to play his game and not worry about what the other players were doing.

"I didn't start the day with any number in mind that I wanted to shoot," he said. "I just wanted to be around par -- that way I knew someone would really have to play to beat me.

"In the end, Mitch did put some pressure on. He was four under at one point."

Jenkins said he could never recall playing at BTCC with three consecutive days of strong wind as this year's Vandy. "Fortunately, the wind was mainly from the south," he said. "If there is a big wind that's the best direction for it to blow on this course."

The windy and dry conditions also caused the greens to dry out a bit. But Jenkins said the BTCC greens were in the best shape that he's ever seen them.

Now living in Plymouth, Jenkins said he started a new job this year and that has limited his time playing tournament, and recreational, golf this summer. But he was able to make the time to come home and play the Vandy again.

"It's always great to come home and play here," Jenkins said. "Hopefully, I'll be doing that for a long time."

Kvittem wins

Playing in his fourth Vandy, Kvittem had to go extra holes with defending champion Bruce Simenson to claim the crown Monday.

Kvittem, who lives in Burnsville and plays out of Cannon Falls, held a one shot lead over Simenson going in the final round. Kvittem stood at 71-74--145, with Simenson 72-74--146. Also lurking were Glen Hasselberg at 149 and Joe Mayer at 150.

Simenson played a steady round in the gale force winds Monday with a 74. He recorded just two bogeys on the day at 16 ands 18. The last one proved costly.

Going into the final hole, Simenson held a one stroke lead. Both players missed the green with their second shots -- Kvittem was pin high and 20 feet away on the left fringe after his third, while Simenson chipped to eight feet from the long grass just short on the left bunker.

Kvittem surveyed his putt from the fringe and rammed it home for par.

Simenson then had his par putt to win, but it was not to be. He tapped in for bogey and play continued on to extra holes.

Both players drove into trouble on the first extra hole, Kvittem, a lefty, to the right and Simenson to the left.

Kvittem had a tree in front of him and no shot at the pin on his approach, but all kinds of room to the right side of the green. His second shot went past the hole about 15 feet to the back fringe.

Simenson looked to be in absolute jail with his drive. But he somehow found an opening through numerous trees and threaded a tremendous shot that ended just eight feet past the hole.

Kvittem then lagged his putt to tap in range. Once again, Simenson had a putt to win. This one, too, just missed and both players ended with pars.

On the second extra hole Kvittem hit his rescue club on the green about 20 feet below the hole. Simenson went past the hole and faced a tricky 25 foot down hill, side hill breaker. His putt rolled past about six feet.

Kvittem's birdie try ended only inches away and he tapped in for par. Simenson was unable to connect with his par putt and the tournament was over.

"Those were really good scores for me on good days," Kvittem said of his 71-74-75 --220 score. "Things just seemed to come together for me these last three days -- that's the way it happens sometimes."

Kvittem said he also won the Sate Left-hander Tournament this summer as well. "It's not really a huge deal, but I've been trying to win it for 15 years. This turned a put to be a pretty darn good summer for me."