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Alex Kolquist stays the course to win second Reidar Lund Memorial title

Alex Kolquist putts on the third hole of the final nine during the 71st Reidar Lund Golf Tournament at Enger Park Golf Course on Sunday, June 29, 2014. (Steve Kuchera / / 2
Dave Isaacson hits out of the rough on the fourth hole of the final nine during the 71st Reidar Lund Golf Tournament at Enger Park Golf Course on Sunday, June 29, 2014. (Steve Kuchera / / 2

With a three-shot lead entering the final nine holes of the 71st Reidar Lund Memorial at Enger Park Golf Course, all Alex Kolquist had to do was avoid disaster.

The 23-year-old didn’t have to reprise the fireworks he produced a year ago while shooting a tournament record en route to his first Reidar win. No, Sunday was all about steady trumping spectacular, and Kolquist was happy to oblige. But when Dave Isaacson made a late charge, the defending champ responded with a decisive retort.

Kolquist birdied the par-3 eighth hole to push his lead back to three, turning the ninth into a mere victory lap.

“I was just hitting my 3-iron and keeping it in play,” Kolquist said. “Dave started to (catch me) at the end. The last couple holes were definitely nerve-racking, that’s for sure.”

Winning one of Duluth’s oldest tournaments two years in a row is a remarkable accomplishment — in most families. For Kolquist, though, it’s rather pedestrian. That’s because his father, Reed Kolquist, has had a monopoly on the Reidar Lund for years, winning the event an unprecedented nine times.

His son seems awfully intent on catching him.

“Unless he moves out of town or something,” Dad joked.

The younger Kolquist knows he has his work cut out for him.

“I just told my uncle, who was driving the cart for me on the last nine, that I’m only seven behind,” Alex Kolquist said. “I’ve got a lot of work left.”

The task became a little more manageable Sunday. Alex Kolquist and Isaacson were tied for the first-round lead after shooting matching three-under 69s on Saturday. Twenty-seven more holes beckoned on a blustery Sunday, when the weather couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to do. A mid-afternoon storm led to a brief delay, and even after it passed and the skies cleared, the wind continued to wreak havoc with shots.

Underscoring that reality: Kolquist’s even-par total of 180 (69-74-37) was 10 shots worse than the tournament-record 170 he tallied a year ago. Still, it was plenty good enough — though Isaacson made a spirited run down the stretch.

Running out of time, Isaacson, who bogeyed the fourth hole to fall four shots back with five to play, made his move. Kolquist bogeyed the fifth, which wasn’t bad considering he spent time in the woods and a sand trap en route to the green. Isaacson, meanwhile, made par to gain a stroke. The same thing happened on the par-3 sixth, and suddenly Isaacson was two shots back.

“Once he made a couple bogeys there, I did think I had a chance,” said Isaacson, 40.

The veteran missed a golden opportunity to level even more pressure at Kolquist when his birdie putt on No. 7 slid agonizingly by the right side of the cup. After it missed, Isaacson dropped his head in disbelief. Kolquist compounded the problem by birdieing the next hole, an uphill par 3.

His ensuing fist pump belied a golfer feeling some relief.

“It always feels good when you can go to the (final) hole with a little bit of breathing room,” Kolquist said.

Isaacson finished four shots back at 184. There was a four-way tie for third place at 187 among Blake Onkka, Matt Mellin, Tyler Madill and two-time winner Dan Moline.

Reed Kolquist was nine shots back with a 189.

“Once I knew I was kind of faltering a little bit, I told (Alex), ‘just keep grinding — enjoy yourself and keep grinding,’ ” he said.

Alex Kolquist did just that, playing defense until he needed to go on the offensive to fend off Isaacson.

“Two years in a row; it’s pretty special to be able to defend,” the winner said moments before taking a big pull from the beer-filled championship trophy.

71st Reidar Lund Memorial

At Enger Park Golf Course

Top 15 Finishers

Alex Kolquist, 180; Dave Isaacson, 184; Blake Onkka, 187; Dan Moline, 187; Matt Mellin, 187; Tyler Madill, 187; Topher Baron, 189; Reed Kolquist, 189; Kevin Noreen, 190; Brian Moores, 191; Taylor Sundbom, 191; Jared Chartier, 191; Andrew Krasaway, 192; Dan Conley, 192; Glenn Walls, 194.