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Heath Hotzler, Published June 16 2008

Hanstad edges Ross

Alexandria, Minn., golfer Bryce Hanstad admitted to feeling added pressure as Travis Ross cut what seemed to be an insurmountable four-stroke lead to one on the back nine.

However, it never showed.

Hanstad shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to narrowly defeat Ross in the 44th KX4/Bank of the West Amateur golf tournament at Moorhead Country Club. Hanstad, who recently completed his sophomore season at Colorado State, finished with a two-day total of 135.

A junior-to-be at St. Cloud State, Ross finished with a two-day total of 136 following an almost impeccable second-round 66.

“It was a little sour finish,” said Hanstad, who carded a bogey on the par-4 18th to help Ross close the gap. “But that’s OK. … The big key was my putting. My putting was solid all through the back.”

The first-round leader after he fired a 66 on Saturday, Hanstad opened his second round with three birdies through five holes. He finished the front nine 3-under for the second consecutive day.

Ross was equally impressive on the front, carding three birdies and six pars. Ross’ near-40-foot putt on the par-3 No. 4 hole helped him keep pace with Hanstad.

Back-to-back Ross birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 – coupled with a Hanstad bogey on No. 12 – cut the lead to one with six to play.

Ross drilled a near-50-foot downhill putt on No. 11 and hit about a six-foot birdie putt on No. 12 to spark the comeback.

“You just try to hit the best shot you can on each hole,” said Ross, from Crookston, Minn. “Yesterday, I thought we played similarly, but I thought he outputted me. Today there were a lot of birdies.”

The turning point of the tournament came on No. 15, where Ross’ tee shot drilled a tree and ricocheted back into a water hazard. Ross finished with a double bogey on the par-3 hole, dropping him four back with three remaining.

Ross closed to within one stroke of the lead with a birdie on No. 18.

Hanstad and Ross combined for 14 birdies.

“In the summers, I maybe hit the ball a few times a week,” Hanstad said. “But I’ll be at the chipping green, or working on putts, one or two hours a day. … Coming in today, I had a lot of confidence. When he starting getting close, that made it fun on the back.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s small college blog can be found at www.areavoices.com