Langenbrunner Takes Golf Title

       Former Bulldogs Brett Hull and Norm Maciver have done well on Duluth-area golf courses through the years, but New Jersey Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner of Cloquet made his links claim to fame Sunday at Cloquet Country Club. Here is a report from News Tribune writer Rick Weegman:

CLOQUET — Jamie Langenbrunner’s tee shot on the 16th hole more closely resembled a slap shot from the blue line than the drive of a golfer with a three-shot tournament lead.

The New Jersey Devils winger scuffed his 3-wood drive barely past the ladies’ tees in Sunday’s final round of the Cloquet Invitational, while his main competition, six-time winner Reed Kolquist, hit a solid shot down the center of the fairway.

By the end of the hole, Kolquist had drained a birdie putt and Langenbrunner had missed a 3-foot bogey putt to send the duo to the 17th hole tied for the lead.

But Cloquet’s native son recovered in time to win the Cloquet Country Club’s annual tournament for the first time by two shots over Kolquist.

“That was a steer shot that got a little bit awry,” Langenbrunner said of his faux pas on the 563-yard, par-5 16th. “I was thinking that I had a three-shot lead and don’t hit it left [in the tall grass], and I tried to steer it.

“It made it a little more interesting going in [the last two holes]. I was thinking, ‘Just recover, don’t try to do anything stupid.’ ”

He didn’t. Langenbrunner outdueled the 46-year-old Kolquist, easily the Northland’s top golfer the past decade-plus, down the stretch.

“I knew it still wasn’t my tournament by any means,” Kolquist said of heading to the 17th. “I just didn’t have a whole lot of confidence the whole event. It’s good to see Jamie come through. He’s got a good swing and good touch and this is his course.”

Still, it wasn’t an easy course. Windy conditions the first two days gave way to bright sunshine and a light breeze Sunday, but slick greens and unique pin positions made things tricky.

“I found some new pin [placements] today that I don’t ever remember and talking to some guys who’ve been members here 30, 40 years, they don’t remember them,” said Langenbrunner, 33, a Clouqet Country Club member since his early teens. “It’s still a new golf course every time you play, especially with how windy it was the first couple of days.”

Langenbrunner outdrove his playing partners, Kolquist, Wes Salo and Jim Stafford by at least 30 yards on the par-4 17th, eventually making par from 3 feet. Kolquist’s second shot went into the short right rough, his chip went past nearly 10 feet and he missed the comebacker for par.

Needing birdie on the 180-yard closing hole, Kolquist drove into a greenside bunker while Langenbrunner’s tee shot hit the center of the green. Langenbrunner two-putted for a 6-over-par 77 and a three-day total of 17-over 230. Kolquist finished with a 78 Sunday and 232 overall.

Kolquist said he struggled with the crosswinds the first two days, then with the ultra-quick greens Sunday.

“I was bugabooed all event with my approach shots,” said Kolquist, who lost a four-way playoff here a year ago. “I didn’t hit many good approach shots. My tee shots were fine, kept in play, then my putter failed me today.

“I go through a spell every summer where my thoughts aren’t where they should be. Where they are, I don’t know.”

Langenbrunner, a 13-year NHL stalwart and Devils captain, is no stranger to playing under pressure. He’s coming off his best season on the ice, scoring 29 goals and totaling 69 points last season. In addition, he was one of 34 candidates to be selected to try out for the United States Olympic team.