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Mid-Am final four filled with past award winners

There's a lot of hardware coming to play in the Pine to Palm Mid-Am semifinals Saturday, which every golfer having won something during the three-year existence of the division.

There will be a defending champion, a former champion and a pair of medalist winners playing off in the final four of the Mid-Am.

Chad Niles won his second round match 1-up over Brian Benson, for the right to stay alive to defend his 2010 Mid-Am championship.

He will face last year's medalist Duane Siverson, who was a 2 and 1 winner over Bill Schommer.

In the bottom bracket, 2009 Mid-Am champ and 2010 runner-up, Jay Olafson advanced with a 5 and 4 win over Detroit Lakes' Aaron Burnside.

His opponent will be this year's medalist, Kent Fronk of Jamestown, N.D, who nipped Olafson out for low score by one stroke.

It's rounding out to being quite a finish in the three-year-old Mid-Am Division.

Niles almost didn't have the chance for a return for a second title, after falling down to Benson by three holes at the turn.

"I was making bogeys on the front nine and by the time the back nine came along, I just decided to go out and have some fun," Niles said.

Benson faltered a bit with bogeys on 10 and 11 to bring Niles back to one hole. He three-putted 12 to even the match, with Niles taking hole 13 with birdie and won 14 on par.

A chip-in on hole 15 saved a halved hole for Niles, as Benson drove into the trees on 16 to effectively end the match.

"I wasn't playing well early, so I figured I better start trying for birdies," Niles said. "I started hitting my greens and getting closer to the hole."

Niles beat Siverson last year in the quarterfinals, so he knows he will have to be more consistent Saturday.

"I'm going to have to play better than I did (Friday)," Niles said. "I need to be consistent, which is usually my game."

Olafson is hoping for a third trip to the Mid-Am title match in as many years.

He was able to take advantage of some mistakes Burnside made early in the match to help build a 6-up lead at the turn.

"I didn't have any bogeys, with mostly pars and a couple of birdies," Olafson said. "I whined many years to get this division, now that we have it, I'm having a blast."

The semifinal tees start at 1:51 p.m. on the first tee.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN. 
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