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Pine to Palm: Mid-Am Division heats up, as field trimmed to 8

Jim Davidson chips up to the 15th green during his match against Frank Campbell Thursday. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

The Pine to Palm Mid-Am Division had its first playoff hole Thursday in the opening rounds of the field of 16.

It was by far the closest match of the day in the inaugural Mid-Am bracket play, as Detroit Lakes' Aaron Burnside downed Craig Stein on the 19th playoff to win 1-up.

Stein rallied to even the match by winning 18 to force the playoff, but he pulled his drive out of bounds, as Burnside made it up and down to secure the win.

"We were both talking and we both thought we each had our best round of the tournament for us," Burnside said. "We both played as well as we could have played."

Burnside estimated he shot around one to two-over par, while Stein was around two or three-over.

The DL golfer fell down early by two, before he made birdie on six to go one-down.

Burnside keyed his comeback by winning each of 11, 12 and 14, before hitting out of bounds on 15.

"We were both pretty happy with how we played," Burnside included.

Burnside's next opponent will be medalist Otis Hesteness, who continued his consistent play to beat Mark Ericksen Jr. 3 and 2.

The match was back and forth, as Hesteness guessed he shot around the 72 or 73 mark, while Ericksen was around the 73-74 area.

"Mark was shooting well," Hesteness said. "My big thing was my putting. But I have to really credit my caddy Greg Troland for helping me out."

Todd Schaefer isn't a stranger to Mid-Am play, after being a contender in the Bemidji's Birchmont Executive Division year in and year out.

Schaefer advanced to the quarterfinals after topping Matthew Ericksen 2 and 1. He will face Jay Olafson, who downed Duane Geiger 4 and 3.

Schaefer's match was even through five, before he won hole six, lost seven and took a 1-up advantage by taking hole nine.

"We both played the last 10 holes well," Schaefer said. "There were a lot of pars, it just was a good match."

Schaefer's tide-turning moment came on a 120-yard punch out of the trees on hole 14. He put his shot within five feet of the cup to steal the momentum the rest of the way through.

The 47-year-old Schaefer has been a big proponent of adding a Mid-Am Division and is expecting the number of golfers to go up in the future.

"A lot of guys who have played the tournament for 25 years and were around the 40 year old mark, had to wait until they turned 55 to play again (in the Seniors)," Schaefer said. "So the Mid-Am is a good filler in between. I think this will only get bigger and better.

"It's fun playing against a group of guys the same age and the same level of competitiveness. It's not a do or die attitude."

In the bottom bracket, second seed Scott McNealy beat Peter Bologna 3 and 2. Thomas Solien was a 3 and 2 winner over Randy Hanson.

No. 3 Kent Fronk defeated Scot Moores 6 and 4, while Jim Davidson ended Frank Campbell's tourney with a 3 and 2 win.