Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.
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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.
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
Rachel Roller of Fargo took the first step toward defending her Birchmont Women's Championship title Wednesday as she outgunned Tracy Gustafson of Wadena 3-1 in the quarterfinal round of match-play. The victory advanced Roller to today's semifinals and an 8:42 a.m. battle against Missy Taberry of Wadena who tipped Michelle Running of Minnetonka 2-1. Today's lower-bracket match sees Cydney Hasselberg of Staples squaring off against Shelby Sauer of Bemidji.
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.
Capturing the state championship is becoming the standard for Bemidji's 12-year-old Cal Ripken team. The squad accomplished the feat in 2006 and again in 2008. Last week Bemidji continued its even-year run by blitzing its state tournament foes at the Mark Evenson Complex in Bemidji. The reward is a berth in the regional tournament which begins Thursday in Kalona, Iowa. All who watched Bemidji knife through the state competition saw a team that was fundamentally sound and one which continually challenged its opponents to make the correct decisions.
The Senior Championship Division of the Birchmont features a Bemidji flavor as nine of the 16 match-play qualifiers consider the Bemidji Town & Country Club their home course. Headlining the group are co-medalists Rob Noren and Eric Niskanen. The other Bemidji qualifiers are Joe Mayer, Scott Curb, Rick Curb, Don Dale, Paul Welle, Bob Kobilka and Rob Jacobson. Niskanen had the low round in Tuesday's play as the Bemidji High School boys golf coach carded a 2-under-par 70.