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Lakeland Tourney enters 79th year

WILLMAR -- The 79th Annual Lakeland Golf Tournament will once again have a strong championship field.

Defending champion Andy Jacobson will return, along with last year's runner-up Chase Thonvold, and 2007's runner-up, Gordy Dieckmann of Alexandria, who lost to Derrick Whiting in a playoff.

As of Thursday, there were 25 signed up for the championship flight, which will compete in 27 holes on Saturday and 27 holes on Sunday.

"It looks like we'll have about 30-35 in the championship flight," said Eagle Creek Golf Club pro Joel Jacobson.

He also said Phil Schmidt of Albert Lea will bring a strong background in state amateur play to the Willmar golf course.

A total of 50 golfers have signed up, which is down from previous years.

"(The Lakeland) will be as strong as ever," Jacobson said. "I just can't quite figure out why the participation is slowing. We give good prizes, I don't think we charge too much, but we just don't get the local participation in flights as we should.

Jacobson noted the senior flight should be as tough as ever with stalwarts Howie Swift, Don Heath, Tom Dooley and Norm Strehlow among those to vye for the title.

Smaller flights will compete on just Saturday, while those flights with at least eight will golf 18 holes on Saturday and another 18 on Sunday.

Action for the championship flight will begin at approximately 8 a.m. both days.