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Birchmont: Roller captures third consecutive Women's Championship

Rachel Roller claimed her third consecutive Birchmont women's title by defeating Jenna Palmiscno Saturday. Pioneer Photo/Pat Miller

Historically only a handful of women have been able to win back-to-back titles at the Birchmont.

Rachel Roller accomplished that feat in 2009 and 2010 and the only other golfers to do it during the past 40 years are Julie Kalina-Jensen (1998-99), Jodi Krafka (1989-90), and Kate Hughes (1986-87).

Since Julie Gumlia claimed four consecutive titles from 1972 to 1975 no one had managed to win three in a row.

That string was broken Saturday as Roller defeated Jenny Palmiscno 5 and 3 for her third straight championship.

"I didn't try to think about winning a third straight championship. I didn't want to think about anything that would add pressure," Roller said. "My caddie (Alex Orr) has been on my bag all three years and he steadies me when I need it."

Roller didn't need much steadying Saturday. She dropped only the first hole and countered that with a par win on No. 2. She took the lead with a par on No. 6 and a birdie on No. 9 gave her a 2 up lead at the turn.

On the back side she padded her cushion with a birdie win on No. 11 and a par victory on No. 12. When she bettered Palmiscno with a par on No. 15 the match was officially over.

"If there is a secret (to winning three Birchmont titles) it's hitting the fairways and the greens," Roller said. "I actually kind of struggled much of the week but today I drove the ball well. The past two days were my best two rounds of the tournament. I felt comfortable."

After receiving a bye in the first round Roller's ride to the crown began with a 1 up victory over Abby Knutson of Grand Forks in the quarterfinals. Friday she defeated Elizabeth Strom of Fargo 5 and 4 and Saturday she capped her week with the win over Palmiscno.

Palmiscno had four matches this week. She opened with an 8 and 7 victory over Cierra Waverek of Staples and stopped Alyssa Konecne of Bemidji 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals.

In Friday's semifinals Palmiscno nipped Missy Tabery of Wadena 1 up.

Roller hopes to return next year and try to join Gumlia as the only women to win four straight Birchmonts.

"I hope to be back next summer," Roller said. "I enjoy coming here. It's fun hanging out with the other golfers and it is a very enjoyable vacation.

"If coming back next year is a possibility, I'll be here," she added.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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