Duluth man wins Cloquet InvitationalBurying a seven-foot par putt on the final green to send the 81st Annual Cloquet Invitational golf tournament into a sudden death playoff, Duluth’s Dan Moline calmly put his putter in his rollaway bag, signed his scorecard and teed up down the fairway on the very next hole.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Burying a seven-foot par putt on the final green to send the 81st Annual Cloquet Invitational golf tournament into a sudden death playoff, Duluth’s Dan Moline calmly put his putter in his rollaway bag, signed his scorecard and teed up down the fairway on the very next hole.
Much like every other hole he plays.
Moline, 26, looked cool, calm and collected as his sweet, smooth and steady approach enabled him to win Cloquet’s highlighted event over Hermantown’s Andrew Oakes Sunday evening at the Cloquet Country Club. It was Moline’s fourth local tournament victory in the last calendar year.
“I haven’t gotten all my game together, but when I get in these tournaments I play to my strengths,” Moline told the Duluth News Tribune Sunday. “I’m happy with how I’m hitting the ball around the golf course.”
Moline’s three-day, 54-hole total of 215 was knotted with Oakes, as the 19-year-old Hermantown graduate birdied the long par-5 16th, dogleg par-4 17th and made a clutch up-and-down sand save on the testy par-3 18th to force a playoff.
Following Moline’s putt to create extra holes after Oakes’ par on the 18th, Moline teed up with an iron down the right edge of the fairway on the par-4, 342-yard 1st hole, while Oakes found trouble in the left side rough between a pair of trees.
Moline later tapped in for par, while Oakes burned his six-foot par attempt past the cup, and the pair removed their caps and shook hands before a fairly large gallery.
“Whenever you can get in the hunt, you want to make the best of it,” Moline told the Duluth News Tribune. “It could have gone either way and I would have been happy because I played well. Andrew made a nice charge at the end.”
While Moline is a 2008 Duluth Marshall graduate and golfer of Florida Tech, Oakes plays for Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. Both are playing in the Minnesota State Amateur and State Open tournaments this week in the Twin Cities.
Meanwhile, Moline has won the Northland Invitational and Lakeview Medal in 2011, as well as the Reidar Lund Skyline Memorial earlier this summer. His Cloquet Invitational title was nice, as 165 participants played within nine flights.
“He looks so comfortable out there on the course,” said Matt Carlson, Cloquet Invitational director and CCC assistant general manager. “It takes a special golfer to hit some of those shots. He’s a solid player.”
“Dan’s very talented and consistent – he rarely misses a shot. It’s really hard to come back against him,” Oakes said to the Duluth News Tribune. “I didn’t make anything all day, then on the final three holes they all went in. I was happy to make up two shots with three holes to play. I wish I had won, but you can’t wait until the last three holes to come back and win.”
It was within those last three holes that the patrons began to huddle around the tee boxes, stream the fairways and circle the backside of the greens, as Moline and Oakes battled it out shot for shot. Carlson said the atmosphere was quite pleasant.
“It was a good following late on Sunday,” Carlson said of the crowd. “Oakes was a few back after the first day, but gave himself a chance to win in the end. It was pretty impressive to get to a playoff. It made for some exciting golf.”
Carlson noted it had been a few years since the last sudden death playoff occurred at the Cloquet Invitational. Nonetheless, Carlson said that along with the late tension in the final pairing, the weather and course were second to none.
“Some people may have thought it was a little hot, but you can’t complain,” said Carlson, noting there was a slight rain delay on Friday, yet hot and humid Saturday and Sunday. “The course was a good test, but birdies were to be had.”
Former Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey coach and longtime CCC member Tom McFarlane played in the final group Sunday, yet shot in the upper-80s as opposed to Moline and Oakes’ rounds of one-under par 70. Carlson said McFarlane coached golf against both top tier players in high school and remained calm on his worst day of the weekend.
As McFarlane faded off the leaderboard, other notables to finish among the championship flight Sunday were St. Louis Blues’ NHL superstar Jamie Langenbrunner at 223 and Esko High School graduate Jim Stafford at 224.
“It was nice to see the CCC have a horse in there,” Carlson said of McFarlane. “Coach played well, but Sunday had a bad start and got off of his game a little bit. That’s golf, though. He was the hometown favorite in the end, and was a class act.”