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Glenn Pursley, Published June 22 2013

Carlson leads after first day of NDGA stroke play championship

OXBOW, N.D. – Bill Carlson already has one golf title under his belt this summer and on Saturday, he set himself up to hoist another.

Just one week after winning the KX-4 Bank of the West Amateur, Carlson shot six birdies at Oxbow Country Club to finish 4-under par on Day 1 of the North Dakota Golf Association men’s stroke play championships.

His 68 put him in first place by one stroke entering today’s final round.

“It was a good day today,” Carlson said. “I had three birdies in a row and I hit the ball really well on the front nine. On the back nine, I hit the ball just as good, just didn’t make as many putts.”

Carlson’s stellar start produced five birdies –three consecutive on holes one, two and three – and three pars on the front nine. He bogeyed the sixth, but sank his fifth birdie on the No. 9 to go 4 under.

Carlson shot par on the back nine with a birdie on 11 and a bogey on 15 – his second of the round – to finish with a 32-36 split.

It’s the second time in two weeks Carlson has been in contention for a title. Last Sunday, Carlson defeated Ben Welle in a playoff at the Moorhead Country Club to win the KX-4 Bank of the West Amateur.

“It would be pretty special,” Carlson said of winning the tournament. “I’ve been looking forward to this tournament for a while. This is my home course so it would be really nice to get one here.”

Rick Kuhn trails the leader by one stroke with a 69. Alex Gustafson, Mason Kennedy and Thomas Strandemo are tied for third with 70.

Trent Olson shot a 34 on the front nine and closed out his round with a 37 on the back to finish three strokes behind Carlson with a 71. Olson is currently tied for sixth place with Logan Palmer.

“Bill has been playing really good the past couple days,” Olson said of his North Dakota State University teammate. “He’s going to be really tough to catch tomorrow.”

And if Olson plans to catch him, he’ll have to carry his front nine consistencies into the back.

Olson birdied holes one and six to stay just two strokes behind Carlson through nine, but a double bogey and only one birdie on the back extended that lead to three.

On No. 15, Olson had plenty of club on his tee shot, but his ball kicked to the right and struck a rock and bounced away. He ended up shooting a 5 on the 156-yard par 3.

“I got off to a good start,” Olson said. “I hit the ball really well on the front nine and missed a few putts here and there. And then on the back nine I hit the ball worse, but made everything.”

Last year at the stroke play championships, Olson took third place.

The tournament continues today at Oxbow with the first group teeing off at 10 a.m. Carlson will tee off at 12:16 p.m. along with Kuhn, Gustafson and Kennedy.

Top 10: 1, Bill Carlson, 68. 2, Rick Kuhn, 69. 3, (tie) Alex Gustafson; Mason Kennedy; Thomas Strandemo, 70. 6, (tie) Logan Palmer; Trenton Olson, 71. 8, (tie) Robert Reuter; Collin Lervick; Coy Papacheck, 72.

Other finishers: Tim Skarperud; Peter Pomonis; Perry Andrisen; Jack Elliot, 73. Grady Meyer; Lukas Davison; Kavin Dvorak, 74. Connor Holland; Jordan Hatzenbuhler; Colin Bork; Casey Gleich; Perry Piatz, 75. Russell Newman; Craig Erickson; Riley Johnson; Korey Lorenz; Tyler Holland, 76. Ty Kennedy; Reid Mattson; Duane Wages; Brian Benson, 77. Matt Norby; Bryce Mattson, 78. Blair Anderson; Anthony Molzahn, 79. Oliver Boeckel; Jake DeForest; Chad Williams; Daniel Sayler; Wes Plummer, 80. Andy Kincaid; Bill Short; Brock Ellingson; Doug Taylor, 81. Cody Pulczinski; Jack Easton; Nate Brewinski, 83. Brady Mahar; Eric Aughinbaugh; Seth Heppner; Nick Myhre; Justin Johnson; Brent Weber, 84. Todd Thompson; Bryan Larson, 85. Casey Hefner; Shay Ridl, 86. David Trett, 88. Kelly McCleary, 89. Edward Weber; Tim Straub, 90. David Richard 103.

Forum reporter Glenn Pursley can be reached at (701) 241-5549