Bahnsen, Foss to play for Mills Creek Open crown

Two young golfers will be gunning for the Mills Open championship. Staff
Jul 16, 2013

It is a scheduled 36-hole match, starting bright and early at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

Shawn Bahnsen, 27, and Nate Foss, 18, earned their spots in the championship match with victories Sunday at the city’s nine-hole course.   

Bahnsen took advantage of Wayne Jackson’s putting woes to grab a 2&1 win.   

Meanwhile, Foss scored a 3&2 decision over Port Clinton’s Tim Belden, the 2009 champion, in the other semifinal battle.   

Bahnsen is striving to join a short list of names to win four crowns in the 74-year history of the tournament.   

Pete Koelsch and Arnie Schuessler rank third on the list of past champions with four apiece. Koelsch’s crowns came in 1949, 1955, 1956, 1958 and Schuessler topped the field in 1959, 1960, 1965 and 1993.   

He has titles to his credit in 2006, 2008 and again in 2011, but lost in the finals a year ago to Jim Mazza Jr., 2&1 in a match in which Bahnsen was 5-up at the turn (18 holes).   

Foss is in the championship match for the first time and he has a chance to join another short, but elite, list — father-son combinations to take the top honor.   

Mike and Randy Manuella were the first to do so, and then came Dave and Tim Belden. Joel Foss won in 2002, 20205 and again in 2010.   

Mike Manuella ruled Mills in 1951 and 1966 while Randy won for he first time in 1979, then followed up with five more (1982, 1948, 1990, 1991, 1999) to become the only six-time winner.   

Gay Schaefer holds the record with 13, seven in succession from 1968-1974 and won three in a row dating back to 1994-1996 and the latter year was his last.   

Bahnsen moved out to a 4-up lead at the turn over Jackson but had to hold off Jackson who reduced the deficit to two holes only to have Bahnsen come up with the key shot of the match.   

“I hit my second shot above the hole and the ball came back and stopped four feet from the hole. I made that putt and that was it,” Bahnsen said.

“I played steady golf for the mostpart and made some putts along the way. After I built that big lead at the turn I was too aggressive and tried for a spectacular finish instead of just closing it out,” said Bahnsen, who completed his Golf Academy of American Arizona Campus program in 206 and now works at Dunhams and also gives golf lessons.    “

Want to know the key in my loss?” asked Jackson.   

“It’s my woeful putting,” he said. “How about one four-putt and three three-putts, and they all came on the first nine. They have bent grass greens here and for some reason I just have problems with that,” Jackson said. He moved back to the area a few years back and lives in Monroeville.   

The key in the Foss-Belden match came on No. 2 the second time around with the match all even.   

“I have no clue how that happened,” Foss said. “We both hit good tee shots and Tim went up to his ball and hit it, but that was my ball. We really didn’t know that but when I looked down at what I thought was my ball for the second shot, I knew it wasn’t mine. That was an automatic loss of hole for Tim and that was a big difference overall,” Foss said.   

The recent Perkins High School graduate jumped out front early by winning the first three holes.   

However, Belden came right back to take honors on Nos. 4, 5 and 6 and square the match. 

Then, they halved the last three holes to begin the second trip all even.  

After they tied the 10th hole (No. 1), the wrong ball episode followed and gave Foss a lead he never gave up.   

Foss is ready to enroll at Ferris State University in Michigan this fall and already has take one major step.   

“I passed my Players Ability Test which is the first step in the PGA Management Program,” Foss said.    Foss can also become the 35th different player to have his name etched on the championship plaque.