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Hinners, Hetletved survive in Executive Championship

Scott Hinners of Bemidji advanced to today's Executive Championship final by stopping Joe Burgess Friday. Pat Miller | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Lee Hetletved stopped Todd Witkowski in 19 holes and advanced to today's Executive final against Scott Hinners. Pat Miller | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI - Stepping off the No. 14 green after halving the hole with a par, Scott Hinners of Bemidji felt confident that his ticket to the Birchmont Executive division championship match had been punched.

After winning No. 11, No. 12 and No. 13 and tying No. 14, Hinners owned a 4 up lead over defending Executive champion Joe Burgess of Woodbury with four holes to play.

"I thought the match was over and I slapped Joe on the back," Hinners said. "But Joe looked at me and said 'We're still playing'.

"That gesture on my part was the kiss of death."

Burgess won the next three holes, one with a birdie and two with pars, and extended the match to No. 18. But his good fortune ran out when he hooked his drive into the pond and eventually conceded the hole.

Hinners did advance to today's Executive championship match and at 10:20 a.m. he will square off with Lee Hetletved of Grand Forks, who rallied to defeat Todd Witkowski of Zeeland, Mich., in 19 holes in Friday's semifinal.

Burgess had honors on the No. 18 tee box and when the drive found the water, Hinners thought that momentum had switched.

"After that shot all I wanted to do was put the drive into the fairway and hit the green with my second shot," Hinners said.

He accomplished that game plan as his drive split the fairway 131 yards from the flag and his approach nestled onto the carpet.

Burgess, who lost a stroke because he found the water, was over the green in three and failed to get down. He conceded the hole and the match before Hinners had to putt.

"I felt elation after the match because I have progressed each day and I have made it to the championship match," Hinners said. "In my 27 years of playing I have never made it this far and I think my inexperience showed. I was also playing the defending champion who had that experience.

"My plan on Saturday is to play my regular game, pretend it's Saturday morning (with his buddies) and see what happens when we get off the 18th green," he added.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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