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BIRCHMONT: Foss outlasts Dale in Men’s Championship division as match play begins

Bemidji’s Bob Brink chips a shot on the No. 18 green during the first day of match play Wednesday at the Birchmont at Bemidji Town and Country Club. Brink defeated Nolan Frank of Sartell 1-up during the first round and will take on Drew Gumla today. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 3
Don Dale of Bemidji watched a putt on the No. 5 green during Wednesday’s Senior Championship action. Dale could not survive the first round of match play as he lost 5 and 4 to Curt Howard. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 3
Jenna Palmisnco of Bemidji ripped her tee shot to start her back-nine during Wednesday's first round of match play in the Women's Championship division. Palmiscno posted a 2 and 1 win over Hannah Erickson of St. Cloud.3 / 3

BEMIDJI — Before Jim Foss of Roseau knew what happened, he was down two holes to Trey Dale of Bemidji in Wednesday’s opening round of the match play portion of the Birchmont Men’s Championship division.

The first hole was lost when his tee shot landed nowhere near the fairway and he dropped the second hole when Dale’s tee shot to the green settled inches short of the cup.”

“People were laughing at my tee shot on No. 1,” Foss said. “And Trey was only an inch short of an ace on the second hole. After losing the first two I was crawling out of a hole the entire day.”

Foss eventually made his way out of that hole and when Dale’s birdie putt on No. 17 slid just by the cup, Foss had a 2-1 victory.

The reward for Wednesday’s triumph is a match against Paul Daman of Bemidji in today’s second round. Daman also was tested Wednesday as he went the distance against Bobby Frazzini of Medina before winning 2-up.

Wednesday’s other upper bracket match play results saw defending champion Bill Carlson of Fargo slip past Jeff Peltier of Bemidji 3 and 2, last year’s runner-up AJ Oster of Ham Lake thump Wyatt Hanson of Crookston 7 and 5, Michael Strain of Motley defeat Zach Israelson of Staples 2 and 1, Johnny Larson of Springfield nip Matt Norby of Grand Forks in extra holes,

Duane Wages of Grand Forks trip Jack Elliott of Fargo 2-up and Conner Bjugstad of San Antonio edge Matt Skarperud of Omaha 2 and 1.

The lower bracket results saw Bob Brink of Bemidji stop Nolan Frank of Sartell 1-up, Drew Gumlia of Tustin, Calif., eliminate Tim Skarperud of Grand Forks 1-up, Tom Jenkins of Plymouth slip past Ty Kennedy of Grand Forks 1-up, Adam Van Raden of Grand Forks down Chad Skarperud of Fargo 2 and 1, Andrew Israelson of Staples belt John Hafdal of Prior Lake 5 and 4, Toby Palmiscno of Bemidji outgun Will Holmgren of Corcoran 3 and 2, Nick Forsberg of Staples tackle Brandon Sletmoen of Dilworth 2-up and Van Holmgren of Corcoran defeat Dave Supalla of Golden Valley 2 up.

Foss and Dale are both very familiar with the Bemidji Town and Country Club layout. Dale hails from Bemidji while Foss was a member of the BSU men’s golf team from 2007 through 2011.

“I played for Don Niskanen for three years and Ekren Miller for my fourth,” Foss said. “Bemidji is my home away from home and the country club is my favorite golf course.”

Last year Foss was one of the few Men’s Championship golfers who was playing on the final day as he faced Johnny Larson of Springfield in the consolation final. Larson won that match but Foss gained confidence during his full week of play.

“My first Birchmont was in 2007 and this will be my seventh and all of them have been in the Men’s Championship,” Foss said. “I keep coming back because I see many old friends and the tournament has a fun layout with medal and match play. I plan to keep coming for many more years.”

After his slow start on Wednesday Foss drew even on the back side and eventually took the lead for good when he ripped a drive to within 150 yards on No. 15, chipped to six feet and drained the eagle putt.

Foss extended his advantage to 2-up when his par putt on No. 16 was conceded while Dale missed his 5-foot par putt. The match ended when both men had pars on No. 17.

“I had to play well to beat Trey,” Foss said. “He was even-par and I battled back from my rough start to finish 3-under. What I have learned about the Birchmont is if you hit a bad shot, you will lose the hole. During the last few rounds of match play you just can’t make any mistakes and continue to advance because you are playing against guys who don’t make bogeys.”

On Wednesday Foss didn’t make too many bogeys and he hopes to continue that trend the rest of the week.

“I feel I can win the tournament but I don’t feel that I am a favorite,” he said. “I’m on the board and in years past the first match has always been the hardest for me. But on Wednesday I was able to get the nerves out of the way and we’ll see how things go.”

Andrew Israelson had an easier time in his match as Hafdal conceded after 13 holes.

“I putted well and I’m playing well at the right time,” Israelson, who will be a junior at Staples-Motley High School this fall, said.

Israelson is playing in his fifth Birchmont and is making his third Men’s Championship appearance. Last year he was eliminated in the semifinals of the consolation.

“To play well on this course the secrets are to not go over the greens, to not 3-putt and to not hit it into the hazards,” Israelson, who shared first place this spring in the Minnesota High School Class 2A state meet, said. “I played well on Wednesday and I’m playing with confidence.”

Women’s Championship

Missy Tabery of Wadena won the Birchmont title in 2012 but her hopes of a repeat were dashed in the quarterfinals when she lost in 20 holes to eventual champion Katie Sheetz of Grand Rapids.

In today’s quarterfinals Tabery will have the opportunity to avenge that setback as Tabery and Sheetz will renew acquaintances starting at 12:55 p.m.

And Tabery is looking forward to the match.

“Winning two years ago will help me because it gave me confidence and confidence is very important (in the Birchmont),” Tabery, who is the high school golf coach at Wadena-Deer Creek, said. “I was playing well coming into the tournament and I feel good about my game. I think I can compete with anybody in the field.”

The 2014 Women’s field includes only 13 golfers so the top three finishers after Tuesday’s qualification rounds were awarded byes in the opening round of match play. Those golfers included Sheetz, Emily Israelson and Haley Tollette.

In matches that were played, Tabery toppled Morgan Miller of Bemidji 4 and 3, Jenna Palmiscno of Bemidji tripped Hannah Erickson of St. Cloud 2 and 1, Hailey Abel of Arvilla, N.D. nipped Olivia Knutson of Hatton, N.D. 1-up, Dani DelGreco of Grand Rapids defeated Heather Erholtz of Staples 2-up and Laura Cahill of Grand Rapids ousted Mikki Kromy of Grand Rapids 3 and 1.

Today’s matches find Sheetz tangling with Tabery, Palmiscno facing Abel, Israelson meeting DelGreco and Tollette battling Cahill.

Executive Championship

The majority of the golfers who advance to the match play portion of the tournament will tell you that qualifying scores mean nothing. On any given day any golfer can win and any golfer can lose, no matter what the disparity might have been during the previous 36 holes.

Evidence to support that theory was on display Wednesday in the first round of the Executive division and orchestrating the upset was Russ Moen of Bemidji who felled co-medalist Tim Fiechtner of Fargo 4 and 2. Moen qualified at 162 while Fiechtner shot 150 during those two days of play.

Another result that could be classified as an upset involved Ben Jurgens of Fergus Falls and Joe Burgess of Woodbury. Jurgens qualified at 160 while Burgess shot 154. Wednesday, however, Jurgens outlasted Burgess 1-up in 20 holes.

The other upper bracket Executive winners included James Clark of Plymouth who downed Tim Gruidel of Edina 4 and 3 and Brad Anderson of Staples who defeated Mike Fore of St. Michael 7 and 6.

In the lower bracket, Scott Hinners of Bemidji advanced with a 2 and 1 win over Derrick Johnson of Grand Forks, Dale Finck of Bertha toppled Jon Tollette of Ramsey 3 and 2, Derek Hasselberg of Princeton ousted Miles Schacher of Hawley 1up and Chad Brune of Hugo spilled Brad McEnroe of Minneapolis 4 and 3.

The Executive golfers will resume their action today at 1:15 p.m.

Senior Championship

A similar upset occurred in the Senior division when Jack Larson of Clements defeated Jeff Tweeton of Perham 1-up. Larson was among the final Seniors to qualify as he shot 162 while Tweeton tied for medalist honors with a 36-hole total of 146.

Jeff Wiltse, who also shot 146 in the qualification rounds, fared better Wednesday as he posted a 5 and 4 victory over Derrik Clay of San Antonio. Also winning in the lower bracket were John McEnroe of Woodbury who slapped Dave Fox of Sanborn 7 and 6 plus Brad Castle of Pinewood who tripped Bruce Nord of Grand Forks 3 and 2.

Among the upper bracket winners was defending champion Daniel Gilman of Centennial Colo. who downed Kirk Werlein of Spring Hill, Kan. 2 and 1.

In today’s action Gilman will face Curt Howard of Sapulpa, Okla. On Wednesday Howard stopped Don Dale of Bemidji 5 and 4.

Marc Redman of Bloomington also won Wednesday as he defeated Randall Burnside of Detroit Lakes 8 and 6. Ray Sauer of St. Cloud was the other Senior winner as he bumped Tim Tingelstad of Bemidji 4 and 3.

The Executive contenders will return to the course at 8:45 a.m. today.

Masters Championship

Joe Mayer of Bemidji overcame his first obstacle Wednesday as the two-time defending champion edged Bob Sorenson of Neptune, N.J. 1-up in the opening round of match play. In today’s action Mayer will face Jeff Wallin of San Diego who tipped Bryant Barnes of Mission Hills, Calif. 3 and 2.

Wednesday’s other winners were Jack Seiberlich of Rush City, Jim Twetten of Bemidji, Jim Archer of Prairie Village, Kan., Glen Hasselberg of Staples, Ron Olson of Bemidji and Jim Kennelly of Bemidji.

Junior Championship

Charles Eickhof pulled off a major upset Wednesday as the Crookston golfer, who qualified for match play with an 89, defeated medalist Nate Deiziel of East Grand Forks who shot 76 on Tuesday.

Joining Eickhof in the winner’s circle Wednesday were Keaton Wolf of Grand Forks, Isaac Westlake of Crookston, Eric Cann of International Falls, Zach Markovich of Crookston, Leo Spry of Walker, Brady Wright of International Falls and Dane Anderson of Crookston.

The Junior Championship contenders will stage their quarterfinal rounds today at 2:15 p.m.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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