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Senior's championship taken by T.L. Solien

T.L. Solien won his first Pine to Palm seniors title in 2009.

This time, T.L. Solien didn't let his opportunity to win his first Pine to Palm Senior's championship slip away -- although the Golf Gods may not have been working in his favor.

Solien survived some amazing shots by his Senior's championship match counterpart William Blake of Detroit Lakes, to land his much-coveted Pine to Palm title with a 2 and 1 victory.

But it wasn't easy.

"I felt like maybe the spirits was with the other guy," Solien said of Blake.

The reasoning was due to five spectacular shots by Blake, which included three putts over 50 feet and two chip-ins for birdies.

"The big thing, though, those shots never put me down," Solien said. "I was able to overcome them and not get behind."

Consistency and a steady game in which Solien never gave away any holes was the key to his success for a one-under par score on the day.

Solien was able to take advantage of Blake's mistakes -- in the form of two bogeys -- which included match-clinching par putts on 16 and 17.

Blake made one of his 50-plus feet putts on 14 for birdie to pull the score back to even and the duo halved 15 after both fell into trouble with bogeys -- the only hole which had both golfers shoot one-over on.

Blake's big shots were not as demoralizing as they could have been, Solien said.

"None of those shots put (Blake) ahead," said Solien, who is an artist and professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Solien missed out on his first Senior's championship in 2007, when he lost to Barnesville's Jim Bergeson in the title match 3 and 2.

In that match, Solien said nerves played a big part in his defeat.

"I was pretty calm this time," he said. "I was steady all week and for the entire (match play) tournament, I was playing even par. I kept it clean and had only one double bogey on the week and about a three to four birdie average in each round."

Solien shot a four-over par 75 as his qualifying score, while Blake won medalist honors with a one-over 72.

Solien defeated defending champion Joe Sauer 4 and 2 after making six birdies in the match, then proceeded to down Paudie O'Connor of Las Vegas, Nev., 1-up in 19 holes and Detroit Lakes' Bill Hawkins 4 and 3 in the semifinals.

"It feels great to win," Solien said. "I never was a factor in Championship Flight play and never won a match (in the Championship tournament).

"Now, in the Senior's, I'm starting to beat those same guys. This is the only competitive tournament I play in and I play only one recreational round a week. This makes up for everything."

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