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BIRCHMONT: Family support part of Gilman's championship formula

Daniel Gilman of Centennial, Colo., made his family very happy by winning the Senior Championship. MATTHEW MCLAUGHLIN| SPECIAL TO THE PIONEER

BEMIDJI -- When Jeff Tweeton's 10-foot birdie putt on No. 18 slid by the hole, Daniel Gilman could finally exhale. And, after the two combatants shook hands following Gilman's 1-up victory, so could his extended family.

"I really think my entourage made a difference," Gilman, who is from Centennial, Colo. and shares a cabin near Tenstrike with his family members, said. "I had tremendous family support. They all got up early in the morning, came out here each day in the rain and the cold and helped me get through."

Gilman's support group was led by his wife, Sheila. It also included their three children, his mom and dad, brother Tom and his uncle.

"This is my fourth year at the Birchmont and in my first year, 2008, I lost to Todd Schaefer in the Executive Championship final," Gilman said. "That year Sheila didn't know what a tournament was like and she kept asking when I would be done. But as I kept winning I kept telling her that I had to go back to the golf course the next day.

"But now this tournament is over and I don't have to play golf again on Sunday."

Gilman and Tweeton each finished with a 75 in the championship match and no more than two holes separated the pair at any juncture. Tweeton actually owned that lead courtesy of birdies on No. 4 and No. 5.

Gilman drew even, however, with pars on No. 6 and No. 7 and a par on No. 9 gave him a 1-up lead at the turn.

The two were even once again after No. 14 but Gilman's birdie on No. 15 proved to be the difference as the golfers halved the final three holes.

"It was a grind on Saturday," Gilman admitted. "Jeff is such a gentleman and great golfer that losing to him would have been no dishonor. Just being able to compete in a field with these guys is an honor and actually winning the tournament is a very special accomplishment.

"It really is fun to play with guys like Jeff, Curt Howard, Pete Passolt, Jeff Wiltse and John McEnroe. They are all very fine people."

It takes talent to win a Birchmont title but a little bit of luck can also be an ally. And Gilman believes that luck was on his side this week.

"I knew going into the tournament that if I didn't have my 'A game' I'd get drubbed," Gilman said. "And in my first round match against Curt (Howard), he didn't have his 'A game'. And I don't think Pete (Passolt), or Jeff (Wiltse) did either. And I know that Jeff (Tweeton) could play better than he did.

"I think I caught all of these guys on the right day. I guess this was my year to win it," Gilman added. "It's been a great week but the Birchmont is a mental and physical grind. And it's nice to be done."

In Saturday's consolation final Tom Schaefer of Grand Forks defeated Pete Passolt of Orono.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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