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Birchmont: Burgess outlasts field to win Executive Championship

Dale Finck (right) congratulates Joe Burgess after their Birchmont Executive title match. Burgess captured the 18th hole to post a 1 up victory. Pioneer Photo/Pat Miller

Joe Burgess admitted to being tired Saturday afternoon. The weather at the Birchmont this entire week was perfect for golf but, after six consecutive days of competitive rounds, not even the breeze off Lake Bemidji provided much comfort.

Burgess, who grew up in Bemidji and now lives in Woodbury, has been busy on the golf course but his routine ended on a positive note Saturday when he captured the Executive title with a 1 up victory over Dale Finck of Bertha.

Saturday's match was tight from start to finish and either golfer could have won. The end finally came when Finck missed a 12-foot par putt on No. 18 to lose the hole and, eventually, the match.

"During the first 12 holes we both played solid golf," Burgess said. "We were tied at that time. After that, however, it was back and forth just to see who could survive."

Both golfers hit a few wayward shots down the stretch but neither could gain an advantage. Finck won No. 13 with a par but he promptly gave the hole back after a bogey on No. 14.

The pair halved the next three holes with pars on No. 15 and No. 17 and bogeys on No. 16, and seemed in position to halve No. 18 after perfect drives.

Finck hit the first approach and found the green. Unfortunately, the pin was in the middle and his ball was 25 feet above it.

Finck's position gave Burgess a reason to reassess the situation.

"When I saw Dale go past the hole I changed my strategy and decided to hit for the front of the green," Burgess said. "It's a much easier two-putt going uphill against the wind than going downhill with the wind."

Burgess followed his instincts and played a safe shot. Instead of going for the pin he landed his ball at the front of the carpet and gavehimself a 30 foot uphill putt.

He came up about two feet short on his third shot and Finck gave him the next putt. Finck, however, couldn't stop his ball and it finally came to rest 12 feet past and, now, below the cup.

When his par attempt missed to the left, the match was over.

"That's one of the beauties of match play," Burgess said. "You can play off your partner a bit and change the way you play a hole."

Saturday's title was the first for Burgess and he is proud to say that he is a Birchmont champ.

"There is a feeling of accomplishment," he said. "I have had success in baseball but not much as an individual golfer.

"It's always fun to come back for Birchmont week and this was a great way to end it."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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