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Leinen tops Starkey in battle of teammates


BEMIDJI - In a showdown of Bemidji High School boys golf teammates, Elliot Leinen outgunned Sam Starkey 5 and 4 Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Birchmont Junior Championshihp division at the Bemidji Town & Country Club.

Leinen never trailed in the match and victories at the second, third and fourth holes set the table for the win.

Joining him in Thursday's victory circle were Aaron Leintz of Bagley who stopped Barrett Eickhof of Grand Forks 2 and 1, Matthew Gregg of Bemidji who eliminated Doug Larson of Grand Forks in 19 holes, plus Alex Barrett of Bemidji who tripped Morgan Williams of Bemidji 2 and 1.

Today's 7:33 a.m. semifinals find Leintz tangling with Gregg and Leinen battling Barrett. Those survivors will advance to Saturday's championship final.

"It was difficult playing against a teammate," Leinen admitted. "But it was also more fun than a normal match because we know each other's game and there is plenty that we can talk about."

Leinen finished second in the medalist chase and he opened the match-play with a decisive 4 and 3 win over Austin Jensen of Grand Forks on Wednesday.

During Thursday's match he was 2-under par when he closed the deal after 14 holes.

Highlighting the front side was a stretch of three consecutive hole victories, a run that was punctuated with an eagle 3 on the fourth hole.

"I've been playing very well lately," Leinen said. "I'm keeping the ball in play off the tee and I'm finding more greens. On this course all you need to do is find the fairways and you can score well."

Leinen hopes to continue his successful run into Saturday's final and he doesn't plan on changing his game plan.

"I was hoping to at least make the semifinals and now I'm there," he said. "Considering how I've been playing, I'm not surprised that I've made it this far but I am pleased. Now I want to keep playing the same. I just want to hit the fairways and hit the greens."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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