(MN Golf Association Photo)
BEMIDJI, MN (July 30, 2016) -- About the only question remaining Saturday after the conclusion of the Birchmont Match Play Tournament was this: Where do the Israelsons keep all their trophies.
Bill Israelson has won most of the state championships, both amateur and professional, that were available to him. The head pro at The Vintage in Staples was inducted into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame in 2009, but he kept on winning, including the the State Senior PGA in 2011, '12 and '13.
His first noteworthy victory, however, came in his home town of Bemidji at the Town & Country Club in the 1973 Birchmont, when he was 16 years old. Six years later, he won the Birchmont again.
On Saturday, the Israelsons added two more championship trophies from the Birchmont to their collection of hardware, which has been growing at a prodigious rate in recent years.
Bill's son Andrew, who won the Class AA portion of the state high school tournament two years ago, when he was a sophomore at Staples-Motley, added 13 tournament victories to his resume this spring during the high school season, and he was named Minnesota's first Mr. Golf in June. (The Mr. Golf Award goes to the state's top high school senior boy each year, and the corresponding Ms. Golf Award goes to the top senior girl).
The North Dakota State recruit had to win twice on Saturday to complete his Birchmont conquest. Both opponents were former Bemidji State golfers. He beat Chris Curb 5&4 in the morning semifinals, and James Foss 4&3 in the afternoon final.
While Andrew was dispatching Foss in the Men's Division final, his sister Emily was busy winning the Women's Division in comprehensive fashion. She drilled Morgan Willams 6&4 in the title bout.
Neither of the Israelson children seems to have any interest in wasting time once a match starts. In his semifinal victory over Curb, Andrew won the second hole with a par, then birdied the 314-yard par-4 third hole, the 500-yard fourth and the 389-yard fifth to take a 4-up lead. Curb fought back with a birdie at the 421-yard, par-4 sixth, and he won the 183-yard, par-3 with a par, which cut his deficit to 2 down.
That reprieve didn't last long. Israelson went 3 up again with a birdie at the 393-yard, par-4 eighth, and he pretty much sealed the deal when he went 4 up with an eagle at the 499-yard, par-5 tenth.
Against Foss, he lost the first hole with a bogey, but bounced right back with a birdie at the 210-yard, par-3 second to pull even, and he took his first lead of the afternoon with a par at the third. Foss birdied the fourth, and the match was all square again, but not for long. Israelson birdied the fifth for the second time in just a few hours, and he won the sixth with a par.
Andrew went 3 up by winning the eighth with a par.
As for Emily, she was equally relentless, maybe even moreso. She won the first hole against Williams with a par and the 252-yard, par-4 third with a birdie. Williams replied with a birdie at the par-5 fourth, but Israelson birdied it, too. Israelson won No. 5 with a par and 6 with a birdie. She made one of her two bogeys on Saturday at the 136-yard, par-3 seventh, and her advantage was reduced to 3 up.
No matter. Israelson won the eighth and ninth holes with pars, and the Augustana junior-to-be birdied the 442-yard, par-5 tenth to go 6 up. Basically, that was Game, Set, Match.
View results for The Birchmont Golf Tournament