Israelson Is Pine to Palm Medalist with 67-65--132
August 7, 2019
DETROIT LAKES -- Two weeks ago, Lucas Johnson shot 65 in the second round of qualifying for The Birchmont Tournament at Bemidji Town & Country Club and claimed medalist honors by three strrokes over his North Dakota State teammate Andrew Israelson. The Birchmont is the first of the three match-play tournaments that make up Minnesota's Resort Circuit. It is followed by the Resorters at Alexandria and The Pine to Palm at Detroit Lakes.
On Wednesday, the roles were reversed at Detroit Country Club, as Israelson turned in a second-round 65 (6 under par) and captured medalist honors at the Pine to Palm by three strokes over Johnson.
Israelson, who will be a senior at NDSU in a few weeks, started the day one behind Johnson. Both shot 3-under 33's on the front nine. Israelson was 3 under again on the back nine with a 32. Johnson, who will be a junior, was 1 over on the incoming nine with a 36. So Israelson finished the 36 holes of qualifying with an aggregate of 132. That makes him the No. 1 seed for the match-play portion of the tournament, because the 2018 champion, Jackson Foth, who would have been the No. 1 seed, is not playing this year. He turned professional in January.
Israelson is a former Minnesota Mr. Golf (the award is given each year to the top high school senior in the state) from Staples, and he won the MGA Players (State Match Play) Championship earlier this summer.
Johnson's 135 (66-69) made him the No. 2 seed.
There was a three-way tie for third -- Erik Weiss, Cody Cook and Bill Carlson -- at 137.
Another two strokes back, at 139, were the ageless wonder Rick Kuhn and Will Czeh. Kuhn has won this tournament twice -- the first time 28 years ago in 1991. He won it again in 2005, and last year, when he was 48 years old, he was the runner-up, taking Foth to the 22nd hole in the title match before succumbing.
Czeh set the record for lowest score in qualifying last year by blitzing Detroit CC to the tune of 65-63--128. Israelson posted the same total in qualifying a year ago -- 132 -- but finished four behind Czeh.
The 2017 Pine to Palm champ, Chris Swenson, shot 73-72--145 and tied for 23rd. Swenson, a senior-to-be at Bemidji State, won the Birchmont this year. He defeated a Bemidji State teammate, Matthew Gregg, 2&1 in the final. Gregg had beaten Israelson, a two-time Birchmont winner, by the same score in the semifinals. (Israelson's father, Bill Israelson, a member of the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame, also won the Birchmont twice, and he won the Pine to Palm three times.)
Cook, one of the three qualifiers to shoot 137, was also a semifinalist at Birchmont this year. He lost 3&2 to Swenson.
In all, 64 players made it to match play. The magic number was 149, and there was a nine-man playoff for the last six spots. Michael Kosiek was the last man in, and he will face Israelson in the first round of matches Thursday afternoon.
The Pine to Palm
at Detroit Country Club
(The top 64 players earn spots in the match-play portion of the tournament)
1. Andrew Israelson, Staples 67-65--132
2. Lucas Johnson, Moorhead 66-69--135
T3. Bill Carlson, Minneapolis 68-69--137
T3. Cody Cook, Hawley 69-68--137
T3. Erik Weis, Moorhead 69-68--137
T6. Rick Kuhn, Bismark 70-69--139
T6. Will Czeh, Roseau 70-69--139
T8. Matt Kulla , Fargo 71-69--140
T8. Ryan Ames, Grand Forks 69-71--140
T10. Nate Adams, Maple Grove 70-72--142
T10. Joe Christianson, Walcott. N.D. 71-71--142
T10. Cade Montplaisir, Mesa, Ariz. 69-73--142
T10. Nathan Ginnaty, Detroit Lakes 69-73--142
T10. Nick Evin, West Fargo 68-74--142
What it took: 149 (9 played off for 6 spots)