Area Golf: Israelson captures third straight title in Bemidji
Emily Israelson made it look easy until the final round.
The former Staples-Motley Cardinal and Augustana Viking cruised to 4&3, 6&5 and 8&7 victories on her way to the title match of the women’s championship at the Birchmont Tournament Saturday, Aug. 1, at Bemidji Town and Country Club.
The daughter of former PGA professional and Bemidji legend Bill Israelson battled Madison Herzog of Detroit Lakes in the finals and the two former high school standouts battled through 21 holes before Israelson finally bested the Laker on the third hole of the sudden-death playoff.
Herzog forced the extra holes thanks to a hole out on 18. Israelson almost made Herzog’s heroics moot, however, with an impressive approach of her own.
“Mine was about a foot away right after she holed out,” Israelson said. “I figured I might as well just go for the pin. There was nothing to lose at that point.
“The first (playoff) hole I probably had a 2-foot putt to win it for par and it didn’t even touch the hole. I just thought ‘oh God. I’ve been here before.’ I was in a playoff hole during the championship and three-putted to keep going and eventually lost. This time, I just told myself that it can’t happen again.”
Israelson regained her composure and matched a Herzog good shot on hole 2 to halve the hole. On the third hole, Israelson hit her approach to 4-feet. It was a right-to-left putt and it went right in for birdie so it felt good to win that way.”
It was Israelson’s third-straight and fourth overall victory at the Birchmont.
Israelson just moved back to Minnesota after getting her nursing degree. She works at North Memorial now, but said a week away at the Birchmont is her favorite time of year.
“The week is always my favorite week of the year just because I get to spend it with my family,” Israelson said. “It’s a lot more than a golf tournament to us, but I started out the week a little bit rusty. I was leaving everything right and wasn’t playing that great. My qualifying went well, but my first couple of matches I wasn’t hitting the ball very well and my short game was a little rusty. As the week went on my swing started to come around. I moved my grip over a little bit on the range and I just got a little bit more confidence.
“By the final match, it was some good golf between Maddie and I. It felt good to get a win against a really good player.”
Mary (Hasselberg) Harris now of Billings, Mont., won her opening round match in the women’s first flight. She then fell to eventual champion Taylor Offerdahl of Bemidji in the semifinals.
Both Andrew Israelson and Beck Erholtz won their first two matches before being eliminated in the quarterfinals. Erholtz lost 1-up to John Hafdal of Prior Lake. Israelson fell 2-up to Danny Menton of Minnetonka.
Israelson’s older brother Zach Israelson lost to Chris Swenson in the opening round. He rebounded in the consolation bracket with a 5&4 victory before losing to Sam Skaar of Bovey 3&2.
Recent Pine River-Backus High School graduate Brady Raph landed in the President’s Flight and fell to Tim Skarperud in the opening round 1-up. Raph rebounded with a 6&5 win over Luke Resier of Forest Lake and a 2&1 win over Elliot Leinen of Bemidji before falling to Matt Halverson of Grand Forks in the consolation championship 1-up.
Finn Erholtz won his opening-round match in the A flight over Max Court of Cold Spring. The former Staples-Motley Cardinal fell to Connor Hausauer in the semifinals.
Another former Cardinal Tanner Roberts suffered the same fate in the D flight winning his opening-round match 1-up before falling to Matt Fox of Sandborn 1-up in the semifinals.
In the men’s executive bracket Derek Hasselberg of Princeton fell one competitor short of winning the title. He fell to Joe McKean of Farmington in the championship match after winning his first three matches.
Brad Anderson of Staples lost to Jason Urbaniak of North Oaks 4&3 in the opening round. He fell into the first flight where he lost to Ben Jurgens 1-up, but regrouped with two victories to win the consolation title.
Former NFL player and husband of Mary Harris, Tuff won the chairman bracket with a 1-up victory over Aaron Bridgeford from East Grand Forks. Scott Woods of Wadena lost his first-round match in the same bracket. After falling into the first flight, he topped Ryan Maher of Bemidji 3&2 and then lost in the semifinals to Scott Fogelson of Bemidji 1-up.
In the Master’s bracket Staples-Motley High School’s head boys and girls golf coach Glen Hasselberg fell to John Hagge of Fergus Falls, while his coaching buddy Jeff Nelson lost to former Brainerd Warrior Wayne Caughey in the same round. Caughey then eliminated Hagge before falling to fellow Perham golfer Jeff Tweeton, who won the title 3&2.
Nelson then ended up bettering Hasselberg 3&2 in the first flight before going on to win two more matches for the first flight title. Hasselberg advanced to the consolation championship and lost to Bob Ostlund 3&2.
Kade Woods of Wadena lost 5&4 in the consolation championship match of the junior second flight to Kyle Fulton of Grand Forks.