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Looking back with Ralph: 1980

Match play to start

in 48th Pine-Palm

The quest to see who will succeed Chris Perry as champion of the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament begins today (Thursday) with 32 championship flight matches.

Perry, who won three successive Minnesota State High School Class AA golf titles and graduated this spring from Edina West High School, is playing in a tournament in Florida this week (see Standing By in Sports on Page 2) and isn't on hand to defend the championship he won a year ago with a 1-up victory over Mike Fermoyle.

A class field of golfers, however, is on hand to seek that championship. Three former Pine to Palm champions, the winners of the 1980 Birchmont and Resorters championships, six former Pine to Palm medalist, two North Dakota Amateur champions and three former Pine to Palm runners-up are in the 64-man title field.

Former champions back include Bill Homeyer of Edina (1969), Bill Israelson of Bemidji (1976-77) and Mark Knutson of Albert Lea (1978).

Homeyer holds a unique distinction in Pine-Palm history. He won the tournament in 1969 by defeating Len Fiocca of Palatine, Ill., after losing to Fiocca in the finals two years earlier.

Israelson turned back Mark Rohde of Marshalltown, Ia., in the 1976 finals and then tumbled Dan Croonquist of St. Paul the next year.

Knutson, who lost in the opening round of the 1979 tournament, defeated Jerry Rose of Fresno, Calif., to win their 1978 championship here.

Pine to Palm medalists in the title 64 include Bob Dahm of Fargo (1965), Mike Fermoyle of Minneapolis (1971), Rick Render of Bloomington (1975), Rick Benshoof of Detroit Lakes (1977), R. J. Smiley of Garrison (1978) and Scott Harris of Roseau (1979).

Two former champions tried for the 1980 championship flight and failed to make the grade. Ken Pinns of Shreveport, who won all three Minnesota resort circuit tournaments in 1965, shot 153 and missed a play-off by one shot, while John Lieser of St. Cloud, the 1971 winner, had 158.

Sixty-three golfers in the 1980 championship flight shot 151 or better in qualifying which necessitated a play-off among five players tied at 152 for the 64th position.

Involved in the five-way tie were John Moroni of Minneapolis with 74-78, Gordy Skaar of Bemidji with 77-75, Scott Johnson of Hallock with 72-80, Don Anderson of Fergus Falls with 79-73 and Mark Thorson of Detroit Lakes with 78-74.

It took just one hole to complete the play-off and the winner was Gordy Skaar, son of well-known Bemidji athletic figure Gordy Skaar Sr. The elder Skaar is a former resident of Detroit Lakes and a brother of Marv Skaar of Fargo, former head basketball coach at North Dakota State University.

Johnson, who slipped to an 80 Wednesday after firing 72 on Tuesday, was the first to be eliminated since he required five shots to reach the green and picked up his ball.

The other four golfers all made the green in three and were putting for birdies on the 512-yard par five 1st hole. Anderson, putting first, came up just short of the cup and Thorson followed with a putt that just slid past the hole.

It required a measurement to see who was out between Skaar and Moroni and Skaar was designated to putt first by Greg Potvin, assistant tournament chairman, who directed the play-off. He promptly sunk about an eight-foot putt for a birdie four.

Moroni, a veteran Pine to Palm contestant and co-medalist with Fargo's Doug Gillam in 1969, left his putt about four inches short and that put Skaar in the championship flight.

The play-off this year was two shots higher than last year and at the same figure as 1978. Golfers shooting 152 played off two years ago, while 16 golfers went for 13 spots when tied at 150 last year. (Last year's play-off actually included only 14 players, since two of those who had 150 had left the course and weren't on hand to play off for championship slots).

Tournament notes

• Donald Anderson of Fergus Falls, one of the five involved in the championship flight play-off, made it into the play-off in spectacular fashion. Anderson, a left-hander who has played in the Pine to Palm championship flight in previous years, concluded the 36-hole qualifying route by hitting an 8-iron into the cup on the 356-yard 18th hole for an eagle deuce to finish at 152.

• Jerry Rose of Fresno, Calif., runner-up to Mark Knutson in the 1978 Pine to Palm and winner of the Resorters Tournament at Alexandria in 1979, had planned to enter this year's tourney only to become ill early this week and that prevented him from competing here. Rose reached the semi-final round of this year's Resorters before losing to eventual champion Tom Lehman. He is the younger brother of Greg Rose, winner of the 1966 Pine to Palm, and is the son of Hap Rose, former Alexandria resident who spent many years as a professional in California prior to retiring recently.

• Three of the players in the 1980 Pine to Palm championship flight -- Jim Strandemo of Mahnomen, James Entwisle of Huron, SD, and Colin Bork of Brookings, SD -- are winners of the South Dakota Amateur championship, with two others -- Russ Nelson and Skip Madsen, both of Fargo -- have won the North Dakota State Amateur. Golfers who have won the Minnesota State Amateur and are in the field for this year's tournament are Bill Israelson and Mike Fermoyle.

• There are three sets of brothers in this year's title flight -- Steve, Pat and Mike Herzog, all of Alexandria; Charlie and Bill Cavanagh of Perham, and Steve and Stu Oftelie of Waconia.

Israelson's 64 Matches Competitive Course Mark

Bill Israelson, winner of back-to-back Pine to Palm Golf Tournament championships in 1976-77, tied the Detroit Country Club's competitive course record Wednesday when he shot 31-33--64 in the final round of qualifying for the 48th Pine to Palm Tournament.

Israelson had a shot at a 63, eight-0uner-par, only to have his tee shot on the 18th hole come to rest under a huge pine tree. He came up short of the green with his second shot on the 356-yard finishing hole, chipped about four feet from the cup and had his par putt hit the lip and roll off.

The competitive course record of 64 was set in 1958 by Jack Rule of Waterloo, Ia. Winner of three straight Pine to Palm titles (1958-59-60), when he had a 64 in the first round of qualifying and the first time he had played the Detroit Lakes course.

While 64 is the competitive record, Doug Gillam of Fargo shot 63 a few years later and Israelson nearly matched that total on Wednesday.

A graduate of Lamar University at Beaumont, Tex., Israelson set new course records at the Bemidji Golf Club and the Moorhead Country Club earlier this summer.

He had 32-30--62 for a new record at Bemidji and also set a record on the front nine at his home course with 27. In getting the 27, he birdied the first seven holes, parred he 8th and then finished with a birdie.

Israelson shot 33-32--65 en route to the championship of the KX Amateur Golf Tournament held at the Moorhead Country Club. In taking that tournament, he had a score of 203--13 under par -- for the 54-hole route.

In the previous two weeks, Israelson has made strong showings in the Birchmont at Bemidji and the Resorters at Alexandria. He finished runner-up to Steve Herzog of Alexandria in the Birchmont and lost in the finals to Tom Lehman of Alexandria in the resorters.

Besides winning the Pine to Palm twice (1976-77), Israelson reeled off three successive Minnesota State Amateur championships (1976-77-78) and has won the Birchmont twice (1973 and 1979).

Lehman shoots

135 for medal laurels

Tom Lehman of Alexandria, who has enjoyed an especially productive summer of golf, won medalist honors in the 48th Pine to Palm Golf Tournament Wednesday when he fired a five-under-par 66 to go with an opening two-under par 69 for a 36-hole score of 135.

The No. 1 player for the 1980 University of Minnesota golf team and captain-elect of the 1981 Gopher golfers, Lehman comes to the Pine to Palm after winning the Resorters Tournament concluded last Saturday at his home course -- The Alexandria Country Club.

Earlier in the summer, Lehman set the pace for the University golfers in the Big Ten Tournament, played in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tourney and also won the second annual Minnesota Golf Association Players Championship, a match play event.

Lehman also set a new record this summer at the Alexandria course.

In winning medalist laurels, he shot 36-33--69 Tuesday and came back with 34-32--66 on Wednesday. He carded 23 pars, 10 birdies and only three bogies over the 36 holes.

His 36-hole qualifying score of 135 gives him a tie for second best among the all-time qualifiers. The qualifying record of 64-68--132 was set in 1958 by Jack Rule, while Jim Ihnot of Minneapolis had 135 in winning medal honors in 1973.