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Cavanagh leads qualifiers at P-to-P

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Perham's Lee Cavanagh has set the pace for the 76th Pine to Palm Golf Tournament at the Detroit Country Club, after stroking a seven-under par 64 during the first day of qualifying in Championship Flight.

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Cavanagh's 64 is three strokes lower than second-placers Ben Wood of St. Louis, Mo., and Mark Robinson of Cardington, Ohio.

The first-round cut ended up being 85.

With a smaller field than usual in championship play, only six players were eliminated from contention for Wednesday's final cutdown to the field of 64.

A pair of former Detroit Lakes Laker golf players, who were on the Class 2A State Co-Championship team, had solid showings by finishing in the top 11.

Mike Brodsho stroked a two-under 69 to tie for eighth, while Ben Bergquist finished with a one-under 70 for an 11th place standing. Both graduated after the 2008 school season.

A pretty potent foursome who went out Tuesday included two former Pine to Palm champions and a medalist record holder.

The 2003 champion, Greg Melhus and 2005 champ Rick Kuhn each made the first-day cut, as the former shot a one-over 72, while Kuhn lived to see another day with his two-over 73.

The 2003 medalist, Jeff Lamp -- who holds the all-time low score of 130 along with Cameron White -- stayed head-to-head with Melhus at one-over par.

Cory Blenkush was about the only golfer playing Tuesday's round leisurely, since he earned an automatic berth into match play with his 2007 Pine to Palm championship.

Blenkush had to take the majority of the summer off due to an internship in Chicago, Ill., but he feels his game is getting back in the swing of things.

"I didn't play too well in the Minnesota Amateur or Open, but I just missed being a first alternate for the U.S. Amateur (for which he qualified last year)," Blenkush said.

The DePaul University junior golfer finished with a 74-72 -- 146 and tied for ninth in a U.S. Amateur qualifier, which was held in Illinois.

"It definitely gave me some confidence, and I feel I've played enough golf heading into the Pine to Palm to be pretty comfortable," Blenkush added.

With the numbers down in the Championship Flight and some big guns missing from the Division I ranks, Blenkush's game will be one to watch over the course of the week.

"I see myself as one of the top competitors in the tournament," he said. "I learned from last year to be a little more precise with my game (during match play) and just stay calm.

"It's good to see a good friend in Lee Cavanagh shoot a 64. He's looking for a little revenge on me for last year (when Blenkush beat Cavanagh in the second round 1-up)."

In Senior Division action, there is a tie for medalist honors between Clint Nelson and Pat Vincelli, who each shot even par Tuesday.

Jim Bergeson of Barnesville earned his automatic berth into the match play bracket after winning the title last year.

Senior's Flight uses one round for qualifying, with several more golfers to play yet Wednesday.

The 63 spots up for grabs will be determined starting early tomorrow morning, with match play starting Thursday and running through to Sunday.

For round two tee times, go to the Pine to Palm website located at:

http://209.81.102.139/Champ/Pairing2.html.

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