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Schaefer, Israelson reclaim Birchmont titles
Nick Schaefer (Grand Forks Herald photo)
Nick Schaefer (Grand Forks Herald photo)

BEMIDJI, Minn. (July 29, 2018) – A long week of golf came to an end Saturday at the Birchmont with a new batch of champions. Nick Schaefer claimed his first title in the event annually played at Bemidji Town and Country Club, while Emily Israelson reclaimed the title she initially won in 2016.

In the men’s division, Schaefer took his first lead in the final match when he sunk a 40-foot putt for eagle at No. 6.

“It was just a long putt,” Schaefer told the Grand Forks Herald. “Honestly I was just trying to get it close. That green is pretty flat, and I was making sure I got it to the hole and it ended up going in.”

Schaefer and Curb halved No. 16 with pars, and Schaefer's par on 17 was enough to put Curb away, 2 and 1. It’s Schaefer’s first victory in this event since 2015. He had an eagle, five birdies and three bogeys on the round, while Curb had four birdies and three bogeys.

"I've been coming here 15 years, and when you come here that long you realize how tough it is to actually get there,” Schaefer said. “It takes a lot of luck and some decent golf. It's fun on Saturday when you're the last guy left."

Before getting past Curb, Schaefer also had to outplay two-time defending champion, Andrew Israelson, in the semifinals. He took down the North Dakota State golfer, 5 and 3. Israelson’s father Bill is a Minnesota Golf Hall of Famer.

In the women’s division, an Israelson did finish at the top. Andrew’s sister Emily Israelson defeated Haley Tollette, 3 and 2, to reclaim her title. Israelson won in 2016, but the title went to Katie Sheetz last year.

A birdie on hole No. 2 gave Israelson an early 1-up lead, but a bogey on No. 8 brought it back to all square at the turn. Israelson and Tollette have come up against each other in match play four times, and Israelson’s win makes brings the won-loss record to 2-2.

On the back, Tollette bogeyed Nos. 11 and 13 and Israelson birdied 12 to take a 3-up lead. From there, both golfers parred 13, birdied 14 and parred 16 to give Israelson the win. Israelson recently finished her senior season at Augustana University, an NCAA Division II school in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Joe Wiltse took the men's senior final with a 4-and-3 victory over Jeff Slupe, while Jeff Tweeton won the masters title over Doug Taylor.

In juniors play, Brady McGarry claimed the championship in the 13-17 division, and Grant Gardner took the 12-and-under division.

Information from the Grand Forks Herald used in this report

ABOUT THE The Birchmont

Men's Division
36 hole qualifying. Low 32 qualify for Championship Flight which begins on Wednesday. Non-qualifiers placed in flights depending on score. (president, Vice-President, Letter Flights)

Women's Division
Low 16 from Tuesday’s round qualify for Championship Flight, which begins on Wednesday. Non-qualifiers placed in flights depending on score.

Men's Executive Division
Open to men age 30 and over. 36 holes qualifying. Low 16 qualify for Championship flight. Matches begin on Wednesday. Non-qualifiers placed in Chairman’s Flight based upon score and Men’s Flights depending on handicap.

Senior Men's Division
Open to men age 50 and over. Low 16 qualify for Championship Flight, which begins on Wednesday. Non- qualifiers placed in Director's Flight based on score and Senior Men's flights depending on handicap.

Masters Division
Low 16* qualify for Championship Flight which begins on Wednesday. Non-qualifiers placed in Senior Men's Flights depending on handicap. *Based upon minimum 16 entrants

Junior Division (ages 13-17)
Low 16 from Monday’s round qualify for Championship Flight, which begins on Wednesday. Non-qualifiers placed in Junior Regular flights.

Junior Division (ages 10-12)
All play in this division is 9 holes. Flights of 8 determined by Monday's qualifying round. Match play begins Wednesday.

View Complete Tournament Information

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