Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.
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The Bemidji VFW baseball team will open its state tournament schedule 2 p.m. Thursday against Forest Lake. The double-elimination tournament is being hosted by Austin and Bemidji will play its first game at Seltz Field. Also in the field are New Ulm, Alexandria, Worthington, Red Wing, St. Cloud, St. Paul Ranview and Proctor. If the Vets win their opener they will return to Seltz Field 2 p.m. Friday for the winners' bracket semifinals. A loss would move Bemidji into the losers' bracket and a 7:30 p.m.
Braeden Ohman of Grand Forks won the Junior Championship Division of the Birchmont and he credits one hole for the victory. "I didn't start off very well and he capitalized on my mistakes," Ohman, who defeated Dakotah Brunelle of Cass Lake 4-3, said. "But my birdie on No. 10 turned the match around." Ohman lost the first two holes, clawed his way back to even after No. 8 but fell behind again after a double-bogey on No. 9. On the 10th hole he was left off the tee and had to punch over the trees back onto the fairway with his second shot.
There is a new Titleist golf ball in the pond to the right of the 15th green courtesy of Rick Passolt. After an adventuresome journey from the tee to the green, Passolt decided that the ball was the culprit. He also determined that the best spot for the ball would be under water, where no one would be tempted to use it again. "It was a bad ball. I had to get rid of it," Passolt said. As soon as he made the toss Passolt's fortunes began to change during Saturday's Executive Championship match against Curt Howard. On No.
Scott Anderson lives in Dawson, Minn., but he is no stranger to the Bemidji Town & Country Club. "I worked at Potlatch but then I had to look for another job and I found one in Dawson," the boiler engineer said. "Before I moved I was a member of the Bemidji Town & Country Club for five or six years. We still have a house in Bemidji." Saturday in the Senior Championship match against Eric Niskanen, Anderson performed as if he never left. The two golfers staged a classic battle that didn't end until Niskanen missed a bogey putt on No.
In 1961 Jim Trapp played in his first Birchmont and four years later he entered his second. This week he made it back for his third Birchmont appearance. "It's been 45 years since I've been here," Trapp, of Tuscon, Ariz. said. "Murray Williamson is a friend of mine and he talked me into entering. I'm happy that he did." Saturday afternoon Trapp capped his 2010 Birchmont by capturing the Super Senior title with a 1-up victory over defending champion Bryant Barnes of Shawnee Mission, Kan. The golfers were deadlocked heading into No.
Among the charms of the Birchmont are the familiar names that return year after year. Many participants plan their vacations around the week-long event and make their reservations a year in advance to ensure that they will be at the Bemidji Town& Country Club to shake the hand of a friend they haven't seen since last year. Another Birchmont tradition, however, is the annual emergence of a new face on the Men's Championship scene.
Matt Johnson, the NDSU women's golf coach, is a man of his word. Rachel Roller of Fargo and Cydney Hasselberg of Staples are members of his team and prior to the Birchmont he told both women that if they battled each other for the Women's Division title he would come to Bemidji to watch. They did and he did. "This is fun," Johnson said as Hasselberg readied to hit her tee shot on No. 15. "I can actually watch both of them putt and not be nervous." Friday morning Roller got the better of Hasselberg as she successfully defended her Birchmont Women's crown with a 3-2 victory.
Every serious golfer dreams of watching the tee shot majestically ascend into the heavens, gently drop to the green and find its way to the hole for an ace. Thursday in the second round of the Men's Championship Division match-play tournament Kevin Krigbaum of Brooklyn Park had his dream come true. Almost. Standing at the No. 11 tee, Krigbaum let fly with his 5-iron. "I hit a good shot," Krigbaum said. "I saw the ball go into the air, bounce and roll toward the hole.
Today's Birchmont Senior Championship semifinals will match Eric Niskanen of Bemidji against John Hagge of Fergus Falls and Paul Welle of Bemidji against Scott Anderson of Dawson. The semifinalists will lock horns at 12:15 p.m. During Thursday's quarterfinals Niskanen, who was the division's medalist, ousted Scott Curb of Bemidji 4-3 and Hagge tipped Don Dale of Bemidji 1-up. In the lower bracket, Welle was a 1-up winner over Jeff Tweeton of Perham and Anderson tripped Bob Kobilka of Bemidji 4-2. Niskanen was 4-under-par when he closed out Curb. "Scott played well but I had a steady round
Paul Daman plans to incorporate a slight change in his routine when he prepares for today's second-round match in the Birchmont Men's Championship Division. "I'm going to get my kids to day care sooner so I have more time to warm-up for my match," Daman said. "That's the only change that I'm planning." Daman, a Bemidji native, is the senior citizen of the Men's Championship field and today the 43-year-old Birchmont veteran will face the youngest surviving golfer, Sam Matthew of Roseville. Daman advanced to today's round by stopping Tyler Syvertson of Bemidji 2-1.