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Curb rallies to win Vandersluis title

Chris Curb searches for the perfect line on his birdie putt attempt on No. 17 during Monday's final round at the Vandersluis. Curb finished the tournament at 214 and won the Vandersluis by a three-shot margin over Jim Foss. Pioneer Photo/Pat Miller1 / 2
Jeff Wiltse of Bemidji shot 74 Monday and came from behind to win the Vandersluis Senior Championship. Wiltse finished at 225 and claimed the title by one shot over Bob Kobilka of Bemidji and Tom Peterka of St. Cloud. Pioneer Photo/Pat Miller2 / 2

Entering Monday's final round of the Vandersluis Men's Championship Chris Curb of Bemidji was tied for third with a 54-hole score of 147. Jim Foss of Roseau led the field at 144 while Johnny Larson of Springfield, Minn. was a shot back at 145.

Toby Palmiscno of Bemidji shared Curb's 147 and those four players were grouped in the final pairing.

Even though he entered Monday's action two shots off the pace Curb was positioned exactly where he wanted to be.

"For me, not being the leader is an advantage," Curb said. "I'd rather be trailing by a shot or two and play catch-up on the final day. All of the pressure is on the golfer who is leading."

By the turn of Monday's round those roles were reversed, however. Curb shot 2-under-par 33 on the front side and, after a chip-in birdie on the par-3 13th, he stretched his lead to two shots over Foss. And when the group shook hands after the 18 holes Curb had claimed the title with a 54-hole score of 214.

Foss finished second at 217 while Clint Cornell of Grand Rapids and Eric Carlson of Bemidji shared third at 220. Completing the top-10 were Palmiscno (221), Tom Jenkins of Plymouth (222), Lee Cavanagh of Perham (224), Larson (224), Bruce Hegland of Apple Valley (228) and Zach Israelson of Staples (229).

Curb was well back after shooting 76 during Saturday's first round. He improved his position with a 71 on Sunday and put everything together on Monday despite a strong wind which affected every drive and approach.

"I struggled the first day," Curb admitted. "I took some time off from the game and lately I hadn't been playing much golf. Because of that I expected to do mediocre during the Vandersluis.

"And that's how I played on Saturday," Curb said.

Sunday's round, however, renewed his hopes.

"On the second day I shot 71 even though I struggled with my putting," Curb said. "On Monday I played about the same but I made my putts."

Entering Monday's final 18 holes Curb believed he could catch the leaders but he knew it wouldn't be easy.

"Jim (Foss) is a solid player," Curb said of his teammate on the Bemidji State University golf team. "He rarely shoots more than a couple over par so I knew I had to play well.

"I went into Monday with the idea of having fun. But I also thought I could win the tournament."

Curb, who is entering his junior year at BSU and is considered a sophomore in terms of eligibility with the golf team, had five birdies and two bogeys on Monday's front-nine. He bogeyed No. 12 but, after a par on No. 13, he owned a one-shot lead over Foss.

The turning point came on No. 14 when Curb drained his chip from left of the green while Foss two-putted for par.

"That was a swing hole," Curb said. "I could have bogeyed from there and Jim could have taken the lead. But I chipped in and all of a sudden my lead was two shots."

All four golfers in the group birdied No. 15 and Curb all but iced the victory when his wedge on No. 16 hit and stuck 18 inches from the hole. Foss, again, two-putted for par.

"I had 78 yards to the pin and I hit the wedge into the wind," Curb said. "When I made that putt I was up by three shots."

When Curb and Foss both finished with pars on 17 and 18, the championship was secured.

"Winning the Vandersluis is among my top golf accomplishments," Curb said. "I was third last year and winning it will give me a motivation boost for this fall's BSU golf season."

Jeff Wiltse of Bemidji carded a 74 during Monday's final round of the Vandersluis and captured the tournament championship, edging Bob Kobilka of Bemidji and Tom Peterka of St. Cloud by one shot.

Wiltse, who finished at 78-73-74-225, entered Monday's round two shots behind leader Ross Kvittem of Burnsville and trailed Brent Armstrong of Winnipeg by a single shot. Kvittem could not handle the blustery conditions, however, and dropped to sixth overall with an 80.

Armstrong also had trouble on the day and ended with a 77.

Kobilka improved to a tie for second with his 72 on Monday while Peterka shot 73.

Ray Sauer of St. Cloud and Brent Armstrong of Winnipeg tied for fourth at 228.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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