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Birchmont: Jenkins captures his second Men’s Championship title

Tom Jenkins tees off Saturday during the 2014 Birchmont tournament at the Bemidji Country Club. (Pat Miller | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 2
Tom Jenkins (right) won his second Birchmont Men’s Championship Saturday when he defeated Jim Ross (left) 3 and 1. Jenkins also was the Birchmont champ in 2009.2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- Tom Jenkins was born and raised in Bemidji and participates in the Birchmont every chance he gets. In 2009 Jenkins, who now lives in Plymouth, capped his return to the summer event hosted by the Bemidji Country Club by capturing the crown. And Saturday he duplicated that accomplishment, outlasting Toby Palmiscno of Bemidji 3 and 2 in the semifinals and hanging on to down Jim Foss of Roseau 3 and 1 in the title match.

“It’s always nice to win your hometown tournament and now, to win it twice, is something special,” Jenkins said.

The hot sun and calm conditions took their toll on both Jenkins and Foss but Foss was able to mount a back-nine comeback despite the heat.

On the strength of birdies on the third, fourth and fifth holes, Jenkins roared to a 5-up lead after only six holes and seemed to have the match well in hand.

“I don’t see how I can win this match,” Foss said to the gallery just before hitting his drive on No. 8.

Despite the gloomy outlook, however, Foss didn’t give up. Instead, he won No. 8 with a par and victories on No. 12, No. 14 and No. 15 cut the deficit to 2-down after 15 holes.

“I have played with and against Jim at least 10 times during our time in the Birchmont and the Vandersluis,” Jenkins said. “I know that Jim has it in him to make birdies and come back in a match. He did that again on Saturday. And I wasn’t surprised.”

Foss’ rally began with a “gimmie” par on No. 8 and he gained another hole by draining an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 12.

Jenkins claimed No.13 with a par but gave the next hole to Foss when he missed the green off the tee and had to settle for bogey.

Foss also won No. 15 when Jenkins missed a 6-foot birdie putt but, after the golfers halved No. 16 with pars, Jenkins closed the deal with a conceded birdie on No. 17.

“I played a lot of golf on Saturday but I remember the birdies on 3, 4 and 5 that helped me take control of the match,” Jenkins said. “But I knew Jim would come back. I wasn’t playing poorly on the back nine but I wasn’t take advantage of the opportunities that Jim gave me.

“The difference in the match was that I got off to too fast of a start for Jim to catch me.”

In Saturday’s semifinals Foss ousted AJ Oster of Ham Lake 2 and 1 while Jenkins slid past Palmiscno.

On his way to the title Jenkins also defeated Ty Kennedy of Grand Forks 1-up, Adam Van Raden of Grand Forks 2 and 1 and Drew Gumlia of Tustin, Calif. 6 and 5.

Foss’ week-long resume included a 2 and 1 win over Trey Dale of Bemidji, a 1-up win over Paul Daman of  Bemidji and a 1-up triumph over Conner Bjugstad of San Antonio.

“Winning the first Birchmont in 2009 is always special but it’s great to back that one with a second championship,” Jenkins said. “It’s been a long week and I’m drained. This was my seventh straight day of golf and to play as well as I did this week is unexpected. But it’s also nice to win another Birchmont.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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