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Birchmont: Roller defends title, beats NDSU teammate Hasselberg

Rachel Roller, left, and Cydney Hasselberg wait to putt on the first green Friday afternoon in the Women's Championship title match. Roller defended her title. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Matt Johnson, the NDSU women's golf coach, is a man of his word. Rachel Roller of Fargo and Cydney Hasselberg of Staples are members of his team and prior to the Birchmont he told both women that if they battled each other for the Women's Division title he would come to Bemidji to watch.

They did and he did.

"This is fun," Johnson said as Hasselberg readied to hit her tee shot on No. 15. "I can actually watch both of them putt and not be nervous."

Friday morning Roller got the better of Hasselberg as she successfully defended her Birchmont Women's crown with a 3-2 victory. Roller took a 4-up lead after a par on No. 7 but Hasselberg battled back and drew within one hole with a par on the 13th hole.

Roller, however, regained the momentum when Hasselberg found the hazard off the tee on No. 15 and eventually lost the hole with a bogey. Another wayward tee shot on No. 16 resulted in a lost hole and officially ended the match.

"I was 4-up at one point on the front and I wanted Cydney to turn things around and play her game," Roller said. "And that's what she did."

Friday's quick start was typical as Roller never trailed during her championship run.

"I like to get off to an early lead," Roller said. "As long as you hit the fairways you will be in good shape on this course and you can get off to that quick start."

Roller's run to the title included a 3-1 win over Tracy Gustafson of Wadena and a 3-2 victory over Missy Tabery, also of Wadena.

Hasselberg advanced to the final by stopping Emily Israelson of Staples 5-4 and Shelby Sauer of Bemidji 7-5.

Executive Division

A pair of Executive veterans will vie for the division crown at 9:20 a.m. today as defending champion Rick Passolt of Edina will tangle with Curt Howard of Saplupa. Howard has three Executive plaques on his mantle, capturing the title in 1997, 1998 and 2005.

During Friday's semifinals Passolt stopped Russ Moen of Bemidji 3-up while Howard nipped Daniel Gilman of Centennial, Colo. 1-up.

"It's going to be a fun match," Passolt said. "We've played together many times, including four rounds this week. But we've never played against each other.

"I know it's going to be a dogfight," Passolt continued. "I know I'll have to be on my game. My plan is to start out fast like I have this week and hang on from there. But that's not going to be easy against Curt."

Junior Division

Dakotah Brunelle of Cass Lake and Braeden Ohman of Grand Forks will meet at 7:40 a.m. today for the Junior Championship.

Brunelle advanced with a 2-up win over Trey Dale of Bemidji while Ohman downed Meg Phelps of Bemidji 2-1.

Phelps won the first hole with a par but Ohman took the next two to grab a lead he would not relinquish. He owned a 1-up lead at the turn and padded the margin by capturing No. 13 and No. 15. When both golfers bogeyed No. 16 the match was over.

Brunelle rallied from 2-down after 10 holes to post his victory. He drew even with the aid of birdies on Nos. 11 and 13 and ended the match by claiming 17 and 18.

Senior Division

Eric Niskanen of Bemidji and Scott Anderson of Dawson will meet at 10 a.m. today for the Senior Championship title.

Niskanen edged John Hagge of Fergus Falls 1-up and Anderson tipped Paul Welle of Bemidji by the same score.

"It was ebb and flow, nip and tuck the entire match," Hegge said of his loss to Niskanen. "We both hit some very good shots and we both hit some shots that weren't very good. It was a good match and we had fun."

Niskanen took a 2-up lead with birdies on No. 13 and No. 14 and both men birdied the 15th hole.

Hagge drew within 1-up with another birdie on No. 16 and he lipped a birdie putt on the 17th which would have tied the match.

Both golfers parred No. 18 and Niskanen escaped with the win.

Super Seniors

Bryant Barnes of Shawnee Mission, Kan. will attempt to defend his crown beginning at 11 a.m. today when he meets Jim Trapp of Tuscon, Ariz.

In Friday's semifinals Barnes ousted Tom Hanson of Detroit Lakes 5-4 while Trapp nipped Jim Archer of Prairie Village, Kan. 2-1.

Earlier in the tournament Barnes downed Harold Vogel of Becker 8-7 and Vern Steinmetz of River Falls, Wis. 1-up in 19 holes.

Trapp's journey to the final included a 6-5 win over Del Gangelhoff of Cass Lake and a 2-1 victory over Jim Nelson of Houston.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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