Pine to Palm: Senior Division down to semifinals
William Blake knows timing.
After taking lessons to correct a few things in his swing, Blake timed his best play of the summer perfectly, resulting in a trip to the Pine to Palm Senior's semifinals.
Already taking medalist laurels with a one-over par 72, Blake -- who is a retired physician -- has had two dominating wins in match play by the identical scores of 5 and 3 against John Schwankl Thursday and Tim Rubis Friday in the quarterfinals.
"This is the best I've been playing all summer," Blake said. "Those lessons I took have really helped. I just have to keep working hard on being consistent."
So far, that plan has worked after he shot a two-under par after 15 holes against Rubis.
Blake carded a 35 after nine and stayed on the fairways and out of trouble to build a 2-up advantage at the turn.
A pair of birdies on 11 and 14 ended the match, as Blake advances to the semifinals for the second time -- the last being in 1999 where he finished as runner-up to Bemidji's Gerry Douglas.
"It feels good playing in the semifinals again," Blake said.
Bill Hawkins -- a retired lawyer -- will be making his first trip to the semifinals after he outlasted Mike Stirling 1-up.
After trailing by three after six, Hawkins started to comeback with a birdie on seven, then won eight with a par.
With the match all even going into 18, Hawkins slipped a nice birdie putt off the fringe and down a grade, setting himself up nicely for about a five to six-foot par putt uphill.
Stirling's par putt missed its mark, while Hawkins' found the bottom of the cup.
This year's tournament is Hawkins' 34th and he said he's ready for just about anything after playing for last in the 20th Flight to making the semifinals this time around.
"I've played in just about every flight," Hawkins said. "It's great to make it this far and playing where I grew up."
Hawkins is hoping a little luck rubs off his former fellow DLHS graduate Joe Sauer, who won the Senior's last year.
T.L. Solien -- an artist/professor at the University of Wisconsin -- extended his quarterfinal match before topping Paudie O'Connor of Las Vegas, Nev., 1-up in 19 holes.
A par on 18 by Solien evened the match to force the extra hole.
In the playoff, Solien was on the green in two and sunk his putt for the win.
"I kept the ball in play consistently," Solien said. "My iron play was good yesterday, but it wasn't as good today, with only two birdies."
Solien knocked out Sauer in the first round Thursday, which was keyed by six birdies.
Solien was in the finals in 2007, before losing to Jim Bergeson of Barnesville 3 and 2.
"All the experience you can get is good, because it's a tough field," Solien said. "The key is that I need to keep my ball in play."
The Senior's final four starts their tee times at 1:57 p.m.