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Pine to Palm: Co-medalists for first time since 1999

Tim Fiechtner earned co-medalist honors with Mark Robinson in last year's Pine to Palm Golf Tournament.1 / 2
Co-medalist Mark Robinson tees off during the 2008 Pine to Palm Golf Tournament.2 / 2

Even though the golf games of Fargo's Tim Fiechtner and the University of Miami's (Ohio) Mark Robinson were as different as can be, the end results were the same.

The pair -- who were playing in the same group for Wednesday's final round of qualifying for the 76th Pine to Palm Golf Tournament at the Detroit Country Club --matched scores on their way to co-medalist honors with a two-round six-under par 136.

Even though the 20-year Pine to Palm veteran Fiechtner's game is almost the exact opposite of tournament newcomer Robinson, the two sparred to a two-day tie to each earn medalist laurels.

The last time players shared medalist honors was in 1999, when Oxbow's Mike Podolak, John Carlson of Bagley and Fargo's Tim Rubis all finished with a 67 -- which was limited to one round that year due to inclement weather.

It was the long game which keyed Robinson's two-day 136, while a conservative approach and accuracy propelled Fiechtner's game.

"I was hitting my driver pretty well and straight down the fairway," Robinson said. "I was able to get up and down pretty well, which is important on every course, but a bit more important here (at the Detroit Country Club)."

Fiechtner for the most part, opted to staying on the fairway and hitting his greens in regulation.

"(Tuesday) I missed just one green and had some easy putts," Fiechtner said of his first round score of three-under 68. "It was the easiest 68 I've ever had, so there was room for improvement in the second round."

The Fargo veteran carded three birdies and no bogeys Tuesday, while hitting 14 greens in regulation Wednesday to key his one-under 70.

"I made bogey on one hole (Wednesday), which was six when I flew it over the green," Fiechtner said. "But I was able to birdie eight and nine to get back to one-under, then almost eagled 12."

While Fiechtner was playing darts on the green, Robinson was driving them.

On the Par 4 282-yard sixth hole, Robinson laid his tee shot three feet from the cup for an easy eagle putt to dip below par at one under.

"While Mark was driving six, I was using my five iron," Fiechtner noted about the two players' different style of games.

Robinson had slow starts in both his days, making a double-bogey on hole eight Tuesday, but then recovered for a 29 on the back nine with four consecutive birdies to finish at four-under 67

After sinking his eagle on six to erase a one-over par after five holes, Robinson fell into a par groove, which was only interfered once with a birdie on 17.

"I missed some short putts, which hurt, but I was really able to drive the fairways," Robinson said of his qualifying rounds.

Robinson hails from Cardington, Ohio, and stays with his fellow senior Miami University Redhawk teammate Ben Wood (who finished sixth with a four-under 138) and his family in the DL area during the Pine to Palm the last two years.

He lost his first round match last year, after qualifying with a two-under 140.

"I will play more aggressive in match play as I was in stroke play for qualifying," Robinson added.

For Fiechtner, he has plenty of experience in match play -- even defeating defending champion Rick Kuhn in the first round in 2006, thus ending his Pine to Palm 12-match winning streak.

Tradition is strong in the Pine to Palm for the Fiechtner family, with his father --  Bob -- being named the Rutledge Award winner in 2006, an honor bestowed by the Pine to Palm Committee to individual displaying longevity and loyalty to the tournament.

"I've played in the Pine to Palm since I was 16 years old," Fiechtner said. "And I've seen there is no weight in winning medalist (honors) in match play. Anyone can beat anyone."

The first-day medalist was Perham's Lee Cavanagh, who had an outstanding round with a seven-under 64.

But Cavanagh fell into trouble Wednesday, hitting a string of bogeys which led to his two-over 73, but he finished with a more than respectable five-under par 137 for third place.

Another wily veteran had a strong day Wednesday, as 2003 Pine to Palm champion Greg Melhus finished with a one-under 141, after finishing with a one-over 72 Wednesday.

"I hit 16 greens (Tuesday), but wasn't able to make all my putts, but the second round, I starting making them," Melhus said. "I was able to keep my ball in play the last two days, so now I can be a bit more aggressive for match play."

The cut for second day was 150, with 12 players playing off for the 10 final spots Wednesday evening.