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Jenkins, Howard back to defend Vandersluis titles

BEMIDJI -- The final major tournament of the golf season in the Bemidji area begins today when the Bemidji Town and Country Club hosts the 46th annual Vandersluis.

The tournament continues through the Labor Day Weekend and will culminate with the crowning of the various champions on Monday.

The Vandersluis features five different divisions, including championship flight play in the Men's and Senior Men's categories.

Participants in the Men's and Senior Men's Championship divisions will play 18 holes of medal play each day and the standings will be determined by the 54-hole scores.

Golfers in the other divisions, which include regular flights for men's, senior's and ladies', will play an 18-hole qualifying round today and then switch to match-play for the final two days.

On Sunday the competition will consist of an 18-hole match. On Monday the regular flight players will play a 9-hole match with the winners playing the second 9-hole match to determine the winner, runner-up and consolation champions.

The defending champions, Tom Jenkins in the Men's and Curt Howard in the Seniors, are back and Jenkins probably is favored once again. The Bemidji native and current resident of Champlin owns six Vandersluis titles. His success at the Vandersluis began with the 2002 championship and he also has claimed the crown in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012.

Chris Curb of Bemidji was the 2010 champion and he will be on hand this weekend to challenge Jenkins.

Also in the field is Bruce Hegland of Apple Valley who won the Vandersluis in 2007 and 2011.

Jenkins will begin his defense today at 9:50 a.m. while Hegland will hit the tee box at 12:40 p.m. Curb will open his Vandersluis at 1:20 p.m.

Among the other Men's Championship contenders are Paul Daman, Toby Palmiscno, Ekren Miller, Jeff Peltier and Trey Dale of Bemidji, Derek Hasselberg, Andrew and Zach Israelson of Staples and Jeff Cannon of New Hope.

Howard will hit his first shot at 12:40 p.m. today. Among his challengers are former Senior champions Jeff Wiltse (2010), Joe Mayer (1998, 2000, 2006) and Glen Hasselberg (2002).

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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