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Pine to Palm: One runner-up will be champ

William Blake tees off on the par five fifth hole in a steady rain shower Saturday afternoon. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)1 / 2
TL Solien of Madison, Wis., tees off on the par four seventh hole during his Saturday senior match against Bill Hawkins. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)2 / 2

Each of Detroit Lakes' William Blake and T.L. Solien of Madison, Wisc., know what it feels like being just one step away from a Pine to Palm Senior's championship.

Both golfers have played in Senior's championship matches -- Blake in 1999 and Solien in 2007 -- and each finished as runners-up in those particular years.

But by the time Sunday ends, one will know what it feels like to be a Senior champion.

The duo will face each other in the title match starting at 12:40 p.m. after surviving semifinal play Saturday.

Blake, who won medalist laurels with a one-over par 72, downed Perry Clark of Detroit Lakes 1-up after playing through the monsoons of the Detroit Country Club.

As has been the case all week, Blake's putter came in handy in some tight moments.

He made birdie on 13 and 16, with both being near the eight-foot mark.

In the end, it was the putter which doomed Clark, who three-putted on 18, while Blake two-putted to take the match.

"My putting was good again today," Blake said. "When I have been standing over my ball to putt, I've been confident. I didn't have any three putts today."

Solien was able to build a 4-up lead after five holes on Detroit Lakes' Bill Hawkins, which was ideal for the University of Wisconsin artist/professor, who saw his counterpart chisel away at the deficit.

Hawkins started out sluggish, losing to birdie on one, then falling to pars on holes two through four.

But he took eight and nine with pars, to chip the lead down to two holes at the turn.

A par by Hawkins on 11 knocked Solien's advantage to 1-up.

But a nice sand wedge shot by Solien on 12 to set up a birdie stopped the bleeding as a pair of pars on 13 and 14 gave him back a 3-up edge.

A birdie on 15 salted away the win.

"All I wanted to do was make par and I got the big birdie on 12," Solien said. "It was nice having that early 4-up lead, because I could afford to have one of those mid-round collapses."

With the championship match between the two former runners-up, each wished for better weather, a golden putter and a different perspective when they play in the title match.

"When I was in the championship match 10 years ago, I put a lot of pressure on myself and that hurt me," Blake said. "I just need to go out and play as well as I can and keep telling myself don't give up and keep on trying."

For Solien, a calmer demeanor may mean the difference of claiming his first Senior's championship.

"The year before in the championship match, my nerves got the best of me," Solien added. "I'm just hoping to go out and hit my fairways and greens and chip it close."