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Birchmont: Putting leads Niskanen to semifinals

Eric Niskanen advanced to today's Senior Championship semifinals after defeating Scott Curb 4-3. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Today's Birchmont Senior Championship semifinals will match Eric Niskanen of Bemidji against John Hagge of Fergus Falls and Paul Welle of Bemidji against Scott Anderson of Dawson.

The semifinalists will lock horns at 12:15 p.m.

During Thursday's quarterfinals Niskanen, who was the division's medalist, ousted Scott Curb of Bemidji 4-3 and Hagge tipped Don Dale of Bemidji 1-up.

In the lower bracket, Welle was a 1-up winner over Jeff Tweeton of Perham and Anderson tripped Bob Kobilka of Bemidji 4-2.

Niskanen was 4-under-par when he closed out Curb.

"Scott played well but I had a steady round and made a few more putts," Niskanen said. "I have played this course often enough to know where to hit the ball and my plan always is to play my own game."

Hagge also is playing well as he reached the semifinals by stopping Rick Curb 3-2 on Wednesday and Dale 1-up Thursday. Niskanen hopes that Hagge is at the top of his game when they square off today.

"In the Senior Division you truly have people pulling for each other to play well," Niskanen said. "It is a very competitive atmosphere but the golfers are more relaxed. The Seniors have figured out that this is only a game and I like that approach."

Women's Division

Defending champion Rachel Roller of Fargo and Cydney Hasselberg of Staples will square off starting at 9 a.m. today for the Women's Championship crown.

Traditionally, all of the Birchmont finals are held on Saturday but, with only eight women in the original field, the finalists were determined Thursday and the decision was made to keep playing.

Roller and Hasselberg are college teammates at NDSU, Roller entering her junior season and Hasselberg about to begin her sophomore year.

During Thursday's semifinals Roller bounced Missy Tabery of Wadena 3-2 while Hasselberg eliminated Shelby Sauer 7-5. During Wednesday's quarterfinals Hasselberg topped Emily Israelson of Staples 5-4 while Roller tripped Tracy Gustafson of Wadena 3-1.

Executive Division

The favorites advanced into the Executive semifinals Thursday. Defending champion Rick Passolt stopped Troy Haluptzok of Bemidji 4-3 and medalist Curt Howard of Sapulpa, Okla. defeated Scott Woods of Alexandria 3-2.

The other Executive results saw Russ Moen of Bemidji topple Tony Carlson of Maple Grove 4-3 and Daniel Gilman of Centennial eliminate Tim Gruidl of Edina 6-5.

Super Seniors

Defending champion Bryant Barnes of Shawnee Mission, Kan. survived a stern test from Vern Steinmetz of River Falls, Wisc. during Thursday's quarterfinals as he needed 19 holes to post the victory.

The next challenge for Barnes will be Tom Hanson of Detroit Lakes who stopped Gerry Douglas of Bemidji 3-2 Thursday.

In the lower bracket, Jim Archer of Prairie Village, Kan. bounced Bill Enghauser of Bemidji 5-4 while Jim Trapp of Tucson tackled Jim Nelson of Houston, Texas, 2-1.

The semifinal field includes three local golfers, Trey Dale and Meg Phelps of Bemidji plus Dakota Brunelle of Cass Lake.

Braeden Ohman of Grand Forks completes the bracket.

Dale posted a 6-4 win over Andrew Israelson of Staples while Brunelle downed Drew Gumlia of Tustin, Cal. 6-4.

Brunelle and Dale will meet in today's other semifinal. The Juniors will hit the first tee at 8:51 a.m.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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