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Medford golf team survives playoff, advances to sectionals

Medford's Chas Lehman tees off on the fifth hole at Tuesday's regional meet. Spenser Scholl gets a hug from head coach Dave Vaara after the team knocked off Northwestern in a team playoff to advance to sectionals.

Sometimes 18 holes just isn't enough. Fortunately for the Medford Raiders, it took only one hole of a team playoff to determine they would be advancing over Northwestern from a WIAA Division 2 regional on Tuesday, held at Black River Golf Course. The small gallery that accumulated after the regulation tournament concluded was treated to the most exciting and nerve-wracking spectacle in competitive golf, a sudden death team playoff. Both teams tied at 352 strokes during regulation, and got a bit of help from a disqualified Ashland golfer, to set up the winner-take-all playoff.
"It was very nerve wracking. Spenser Scholl and Chas Lehman lost their focus out there during their rounds. But they both kept grinding and we pulled it out in the playoff. It was intense. We have a really close group, they're very tight-knit. It was an awesome scene. We've gotten so much better throughout the year," Raiders head coach Dave Vaara said.
In a team playoff, both squads of five play holes until one team posts a lower score than the other. The worst score of the five on each side is dropped on each hole. Northwestern's number-four had been disqualified earlier in the round, so his team went into the playoff with four men. Medford's five teed off first and were all in good position for their approach shots green on the first hole, a 342-yard par-4. Northwestern's Dylan Yrjanainen had the best drive of anyone on the hole, but none of his other three teammates could find the fairway. The Raiders put four of their five approach shots on the green or fringe, putting plenty of pressure on Northwestern. Yrjanainen dropped his pitch to five feet, but the rest all found the rough around the green. Northwestern's number three, Kade Bartelt, chunked several iron shots before arriving on the green. Scholl nearly birdied the hole, but his putt from the fringe 50 feet away glanced off the flagstick. He settled for a par, as did Lehman and Klayton Kree. Mike Knight and Tyler Kadlecek both recorded bogies. Yrjanainen posted a par, his teammates Mike Lindsay and Matt Lindsay both had bogies, but the big difference came on Bartelt's eight, giving Medford the 17-22 win. As the putts started to drop in the cup, smiles began to break out across the Raiders' faces, and the gallery cheered as they celebrated the team securing an unlikely berth to the sectional level.

For more of the story, see this week's issue of The Star News.

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