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Golf: Herrman goes low, Israelson, Lehman in the hunt

The opening round of the CRMC Championship at Cragun's Legacy Courses

Andrew Israelson tees off.
Andrew Israelson tees off Thursday, Aug. 25, during the PGA Tour Canada’s CRMC Championship presented by Gertens at Cragun’s Legacy Courses.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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EAST GULL LAKE — Alexander Herrmann put the early number for the PGA Tour Canada CRMC Championship presented by Gertens.

The German fired a 9-under 61 in the opening round Thursday, Aug. 25, at Cragun’s Legacy Courses.

He opened with birdies on 16 and 17 and made eagle on the par 5 18th for a back nine 5-under.

He closed with a 4-under front nine that included five birdies and a bogey on the par 4 ninth hole.

“I just went out there and the first couple of holes played into the wind so it wasn’t necessarily easy,” Herrmann said. “There were kind of some long par 4s as well so I just hit quality shots that happened to be close to the flag. I didn’t make a birdie early on. My first one was on 13, but I was hitting every spot that I was looking at. I wasn’t aiming at the flags for the first few holes so I knew my ball striking was very good.”

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Herrmann said making the turn on 14 most of the holes were downwind from there so he started to be aggressive with his approach shots.

“I took advantage of that and was close to all the flags there,” Herrmann said. “I didn’t really hole any long putts, but it felt like it was very easy. Obviously, it was great golf, but it was a lot of fun.”

A birdie on his final hole would have given Herrmann a 59. That didn’t even register to him until after the round.

“That makes it even more annoying,” Herrmann said. “It played into the wind and I thought if I could squeeze out one more birdie that would be a good round. I was just a little too aggressive there. I should have hit my 2-iron there instead of 3-wood. The way the hole shapes, it is set up perfect for my draw so that was a bit of a mistake. That’s something I can learn from.”

Herrmann’s good opening round only put him one shot clear of the field. Conner Godsey of Rogersville, Alabama, and Taylor Funk of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, each shot 8-under.

Six players shot 7-under.

Sitting at 2-under is Staples-Motley High School graduate Andrew Israelson and his playing partner Thomas Lehman.

Israelson opened on the back nine and made the 50-person gallery following his group cheer with a birdie on the 12th hole. That was followed by back-to-back bogeys. The 24-year-old got back to even with a birdie on the par 5 16th and just missed a birdie putt on the par 17. The former North Dakota State University Bison birdied the par 5 18th for a 1-under 34 opening nine.

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“I’m happy with how I played,” Israelson said. “I played smart. All my bogeys were solely based on club selection. I had four bogeys and they are easily not going to happen tomorrow.”

Israelson rattled off five straight pars to open his second nine before chipping in for eagle on the par 4 sixth hole. That momentum carried him to a birdie on the seventh hole.

“I was contemplating not hitting driver on six, but my caddie (his brother Zach Israelson) talked me into it because I was playing great,” Israelson said. “I was. I was driving awesome today. I saw Thomas hit his chip and I was thinking I had a little better lie. His was downhill and mine was on the uphill. I’ve got some hands. We’re good. Then I was thinking about landing it on the green instead of the fringe. But then I got up there and knew I had to land it on the fringe. I just hit exactly where I was trying to and I was just cheering it on and it went in. It was good momentum and I birdied the next hole.”

The group was put on notice for slow play, however, and Israelson finished bogey-bogey for his round.

“For whatever reason, we were put on the clock and that made me rush the last two holes and honestly it was just club selection,” Israelson said. “I hit bad shots, but it was because I had bad yardages. I think if I’m not rushing it’s a little different, but that’s golf.

“On nine I hit 3-wood and honestly I should have hit driver or 3-iron. But I hit it exactly the right yardage — it just went into the woods. I hit the 3-wood nice, but I just tugged it. Just an inch and because it was the wrong club it went another 10 yards and I’m in the woods.”

That has him tied for 55th with Lehman and 19 other players, which would put him into the weekend.

Caddy note: Brainerd Warriors senior Dawson Ringler was on the bag for Lehman Thursday. After the round, Ringler said he learned a lot about attacking his home course.

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“Yeah, you have to keep it in play and drive it 330 yards,” he said.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

PGA Tour Canada

CRMC Championship

Cragun’s Legacy Courses

First round

1-Alexander Herrmann -9, 61

2t-Conner Godsey -8, 62

2t-Taylor Funk -8, 62

4t-Brett White -7, 63

4t-Wil Bateman -7, 63

4t-Joe Highsmith -7, 63

4t-Gavin Hall -7, 63

4t-Peyton White -7, 63

4t-Thomas Walsh -7, 63

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