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Rubis is champion

It was a start champions are made up of.

Longtime Pine to Palm competitor Fargo's Tim Rubis roared out of the gates in his Seniors championship match against Clint Nelson, by winning the first three holes to set the tone in his 5 and 4 victory Sunday at the Detroit Country Club.

Rubis made birdie, par and par on his first three holes under some heavy winds, as Nelson struggled to start the match.

"It's pretty easy to make bogey in a wind like this," Rubis said. "It was a great advantage taking a lead like that, because your opponent starts pressing and they start making some mistakes."

The lead was expanded to 6-up after Rubis won holes five through seven and from there, he was able to play conservative and ride the lead out.

"When you get that big of a lead, it becomes a waiting game and your opponent runs out of holes," Rubis said. "Then you just need to shoot for par."

Rubis also can thank his son Jon, who was caddying for him during the title match.

Patience isn't a strength of Tim's, so his son was able to tether him in on some holes.

"Jon took some clubs away from me when I was thinking of going for the pin," Tim Rubis said. "You need to stay in front of the green, because if you go behind it, that's when bogeys start to happen.

"You need to keep your emotions out of the game and I'm impatient by nature."

With a 6-up advantage at the turn, Nelson kept plugging away, winning holes 11 and 12 to cut the deficit to 4-up.

"I saw Clint perk up a little after winning those two holes," Rubis said. "But on 13, he hit it over the green and I was going to go for it with a nine iron, but (Jon) gave me the pitching wedge and I ended up making par to take a 5-up lead."

That was more than enough to quell any Nelson comeback, as Rubis collected his first Pine to Palm championship.

Each of Rubis' sons, Jon and Matt, played in the Championship flight, while Tim was a longtime Championship flighter, but has competed in the Seniors the last few years.

He realized how hard it is to land a Pine to Palm title, as well, throughout those years.

"It's very gratifying because the competition in Seniors is very good," Rubis said. "When I shot a 77 in my qualifying round, I thought I didn't have a chance to make the cut. After I did make it, I felt I was more than capable of shooting better."

Rubis made up for his qualifying score by downing John Schwankl in the first round 5 and 4, then continued his run with another 5 and 4 win over Mike Stirling in the quarterfinals.

The semifinals were much more difficult against Larry Olin, and it took a 20-foot birdie putt on hole 18 to advance to the finals.

"That was one of my most exciting matches," Rubis said of his semifinal tilt against Olin. "And Clint (Nelson) is one of the best Senior players in North Dakota and an excellent player.

"So it was a good win."

The Seniors were also affected by rain delays, especially in the first round Thursday.

With two rain delays already called, the Senior's first round matches were ended prematurely, with about three to four holes remaining.

First-time Pine to Palmer John Stromstad of Bismarck, N.D., did make his mark, as well, after he broke the qualifying record when he carded a six-under par 65, thus eclipsing Robert Wernick's 68 he shot in 1999.

Stromstad and defending champion T.L. Solien each lost in the rain-shortened first round.

Ron Burnside of DL downed Solien 1-up and Burke Kiger beat Stromstad 1-up.

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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