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BIRCHMONT: EGF's Deziel falls to future NDSU teammate in match play opener

BEMIDJI -- In 2016 and 2017, Andrew Israelson claimed the Men's Division championship at the Birchmont Golf Tournament. His soon-to-be teammate at North Dakota State, Nate Deziel, has a pair of titles himself, winning the Junior Division the past...

Birchmont
Defending Birchmont champion Andrew Israelson putts onto the green on hole No. 7 on Wednesday as Nate Deziel watches in the background. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

 

BEMIDJI -- In 2016 and 2017, Andrew Israelson claimed the Men’s Division championship at the Birchmont Golf Tournament. His soon-to-be teammate at North Dakota State, Nate Deziel, has a pair of titles himself, winning the Junior Division the past two years.

Although Israelson is a junior for the Bison, his incoming freshman counterpart took him through 17 holes before the defending champion could put him away 2-1.

After qualifying play wrapped up Tuesday, night, the pair found out they would be playing against each other in the first round of the Men’s Championship match play, and something would have to give.

“I kind of figured if I made it after the playoff (Tuesday), I was going to be put there,” Deziel said. “I just wanted to go see if I could beat one of my teammates I’ll be playing with next year.”

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Deziel’s playoff win gave him the last seed (No. 32) in the championship flight, which put him against the top-seeded Israelson.

“I wanted to make a champ seed,” said Deziel. “Probably not the 32nd seed, but you take what you get and you go from there.”

Having played Deziel – who won the 2018 Class AA Minnesota State Championship in June – three or four times before, Israelson knew his first-round match wasn’t going to be a breezy win.

“I was kind of nervous to be honest,” Israelson said. “Not so much that I was scared to play him, but in fear that I could possibly lose. I wasn’t afraid that I was going to play bad. I was afraid that he could actually beat me.”

The pair of Bison stayed close through the front nine, but an Israelson eagle on No. 9 to put him 1-up turned out to be the turning point of the match.

“That probably got my confidence up the most,” he said. “He was already in with bogey, and I had about 20 feet straight downhill for eagle. He could’ve just gave it to me, but he let me putt it and I think that actually gained confidence for me.”

By hole No. 14, Israelson had extended his lead to 3-up with four holes to go. Deziel eagled No. 15 to stay alive before both missed birdie attempts on No. 16.

Finally, on No. 17, Israelson was able to claim the 2-1 win.

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Taking the loss, Deziel said he enjoyed the round with a leader on the team he’ll join in the fall.

“He’s a solid golfer, and he’s always out there having fun it seems like,” he said, “so I just wanted to kind of enjoy that with him and play some good golf.”

Despite thinking he didn’t make enough putts on Wednesday, Israelson’s level of play may be enough for a third straight title.

“Obviously I want to win again, but I think if I just continue to play this way, I’ll be really happy, win or lose,” he said. “But I think if I continue to play like this I’ve got a really, really good shot at winning.”

Israelson will next take on Nathan Haley out of Richmond, Texas, starting on hole No. 1 at 12:15 p.m.

A glance at the brackets

Elsewhere in Birchmont action at the Bemidji Town and Country Club on Wednesday, Women’s Championship top seed Emily Israelson topped fellow Staples native Alix Peterson, 8-6, and both of this year’s Bemidji High School players, Abbie Kelm and Taylor Offerdahl, beat their opponents.

Kelm defeated Lily Bredemeier 7-6, while Offerdahl edged Katie Varty 1-up in 22 holes.

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In the Executive Championship, defending champion Nick Bergan started defending his title on a high note with an 8-6 win over Michael Iossi, while Bemidji’s Ron Laituri topped Nathan Brewinski 1-up.

Israelson tees off on No. 1 at 12:55 p.m. today against Mary Harris along with Offerdahl and her opponent, Haley Tollette, while Kelm’s start time is 10 minutes later against Anna Tollette.

Jeff Stadheim, the top seed in the Men’s Senior Division, continued his streak of solid golf with a 4-3 win over Mike Duea. Stadheim is set to face Curt Howard at 1:35 p.m. today, starting on No. 1.

In a matchup between Bemidjians, Scott Hinners beat Tim Tingelstad 2-up to join Jeff Wiltse and Russ Moen as Bemidji natives still alive in the senior championship flight.

Hinners tees off on No. 1 against Moen at 1:45 p.m. along with Wiltse and his opponent, Tim Kratzke.

Men’s Masters defending champion and top seed Jeff Tweeton claimed a 2-1 win over Bemidji’s Paul Welle, while Logan Hamak, the No. 1 seed in the Junior Division, edged Trey Christopherson 2-up to remain alive, as well.

In the Junior 12 and Under Division three of the four remaining competitors in the championship flight hail from Grand Forks, N.D. Grant Gardner is taking on Kale Gruenberg today, while Rylan Bures faces Luke Thompson of St. Louis Park. The foursome tees off at 5:45 p.m. on No. 1.

Related Topics: GOLF
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