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Birchmont: Dale earns junior division top seed

Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

If you want to find Trey Dale this summer the first place to search is the Bemidji Town & Country Club.

"I'm a member here, I play a lot of golf here and I also work in the pro shop," Dale, who is entering his junior year at Bemidji High School, said. "I like being at the golf course."

Monday during his qualifying round of the Birchmont Junior Division Dale transferred his knowledge and love for the BTCC into the division's best score. Dale carded a 77 to top the field and earn the top seed in the 8-person Junior Division.

Monday's qualifiers will return to the BTCC on Thursday for their quarterfinal match-play rounds.

Also earning berths in the playdowns were Braeden Ohman of Grand Forks who shot 78, Aaron Leintz of Bagley (80), Dakotah Brunelle of Cass Lake (81), Drew Gumlia of Tustin, Cal. (81), Kaleb Hanson of Bemidji (82), Meg Phelps of Bemidji (82) and Andrew Israelson of Staples (83).

Israelson claimed the final spot in a playoff as he outlasted Kodi Craft of Bemidji and Neil Thompson of East Grand Forks.

Thursday's pairings match Dale against Israelson and Brunelle against Gumlia in the upper bracket.

The lower bracket pairings see Ohman tangling with Hanson and Leintz facing Phelps.

Dale is making his fourth journey into the Birchmont waters and this is his third season in the Junior Championship field.

"During my first year I was a fill-in for the third flight," he said. "In 2008 I qualified with a 77 but lost my two matches. Last year I shot 80 in qualifying, won my first match against Drew Gumlia then lost to Sam Matthew on the 18th hole.

Matthew went on to win the Junior crown. He also captured the Junior title in 2007 and was second in 2008.

Dale shot 74 in his loss to Matthew and his career low at the BTCC is 70. Monday's round was higher than those figures but he was very happy with the score and with how he is playing.

"There were just a couple of shots I didn't hit well," Dale said. "I'd like to think that I can win the championship. To do that I'll just have to continue to play good golf."

Dale's qualifying card featured birdies on the fourth and 10th holes and seven bogeys. He was in the first group to hit the tee and, by beginning the round at 7 a.m., Dale and his companions escaped the wind which began to blow off Lake Bemidji in late morning.

"The key to playing this course well is to have a solid short game and hit the fairways," Dale said. "Instead of going for the par-5s in two and dealing with the hazards, take the safe, easy shot. You can still make birdie that way."

Brunelle, who plays his high school golf at Cass Lake-Bena, is playing in his second Birchmont. This spring he placed 26th at the Class A state golf meet and is familiar with the BTCC layout.

"You need to hit the fairways on this course," he said. "I didn't do that very well Monday but I had a lot of up and downs for par. To win I'll have to play better but I know I will play better."

Executive Division

Rick Passolt of Edina is the defending champion and he will be the top seed when the match-play portion of the tournament begins Wednesday. Monday the field was trimmed to the top 32 and after today only the top 15 will join Passolt in the match-play.

Curt Howard of Salpulpa, Okla. captured the Executive crown in 1997, 1998 and 2005 and he established himself as among this year's favorites with a 75 on Monday. Pete Passolt of Minneapolis, who won the Men's Division title in 1995, carded a 76 while Dale Finck of Bertha and Troy Haluptzok of Bemidji each shot 77.

Finishing with 79s were Todd Schaefer of Grand Forks and Joe Burgess of Woodbury.

The Executive golfers will begin their second round of qualifying today beginning at 7:45 a.m.

Senior division

Rob Noren of Bemidji shot Monday's low round among the Senior Championship golfers as he finished with a 73. Charlie Peterka of St. Cloud was a shot back and John McEnroe of Woodbury shot 76.

The group at 77 included Peter Bridston of St. Louis Park, Glen Hasselberg of Staples, Jeff Tweeton of Perham and Eric Niskanen of Bemidji.

Gary Vogel of Bemidji opened his Birchmont with a 78 while Bemidji golfers Rob Jacobson and Joe Mayer each shot 80.

Among the golfers firing 81s were Bemidji golfers Rick Curb, Joe Aitken, Jeff Nelson and Paul Welle plus Scott Anderson of Dawson, John Hagge of Fergus Falls and Bruce Nord of Grand Forks.

The Seniors return to the course at 12:03 p.m. today for their second round.

Today's Schedule

The Women's Championship hopefuls will begin their qualification round at 8:39 a.m. today. Among the favorites in the field is defending champion Rachel Roller. Shelby Sauer of Bemidji also will compete.

Bryant Barnes headlines the Super Senior Division which holds its qualification round starting at 9:15 a.m. today. Barnes is the defending champion but among those expected to offer stiff opposition are Gerry Douglas, who has won the event four times, Jim Archer, Dave Vogel, Murray Williamson and Del Gangelhoff.


Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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