Golf: IM’s Constantini reaches UPLGA quarterfinals

Gladstone’s Lori Shea watches her drive on hole 11 during the quarterfinals of the UPLGA championship Monday at Escanaba Country Club. Shea defeated Hancock’s Payton Dube to advance to the semifinals, which begin at 8 a.m. EDT today. (Austin Hemmingson/The Daily Press)

ESCANABA — Three local women and one from Iron Mountain have advanced to the semifinals of the UPLGA championship at Escanaba Country Club after turning in impressive performances in the quarterfinals Monday.

Escanaba’s Paxton Johnson, Gladstone’s Lori Shea, Rapid River’s Mary Bergman and Iron Mountain’s Jean Constantini advanced to the semifinals, which begin today at 8 a.m. EDT Johnson faces Bergman and Shea faces Constantini. The winner of each match advances to the finals, which well be held shortly after at roughly 1 p.m.

Bergman had a fantastic quarterfinal round, taking down Ontonagon’s Cathy Shamion after just 12 holes.

“I called my daughter (Kim Viau) last night and asked her sit in the cart with me. She said she wouldn’t be my caddie, but would sit in the cart with me,” Bergman said. “For many years I used to have my son caddie for me, so this was an honor to have my daughter sit with me this time.

“I had a tremendous time golfing with Cathy, who plays a really good game. Let me just say that this time she did not play her game today, and I was happy that I was straight down the fairway.”

She will now face Johnson, who overcame a one-hole deficit midway through to beat Vulcan’s Kathy Gagnon in 16 holes. Johnson is the tournament’s defending champion and No. 1 seed. Both Johnson and Bergman are members at ECC, and Johnson has the won the ECC club championship two years in a row.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun because Paxton is like my best friend’s daughter, so we’re so close and she’s such a wonderful person,” Bergman said. “It’s going to be exciting and interesting. I’m looking forward to it because I love the way Paxton plays — she just swings.”

Shea won a close quarterfinal match, taking four of the final five holes to win on hole 17 after she was tied with Hancock’s Payton Dube through the first dozen.

“I played great match play today,” Shea said. “I just stayed in my zone, I hit the ball really nice and I didn’t try to push it. My drives were awesome, my approach shots were awesome and my chipping shots were great for the most part.”

Shea mentioned she likes to just take a hole-by-hole approach, which helps her focus.

“I don’t look ahead and I don’t look back. I really like to stay in the moment because anything can happen,” she said. “I just try to stay hole-for-hole. (On hole 17), I knew I was two up, and I just had to tie, obviously. On the approach shot, I took too much of a club. I didn’t realize it until after that it was 127 yards to the flag, and I took more club than I needed. That’s why I went over, I’m sure. I think the adrenaline was also there too. I was pleased with where the ball was when I went up to it, but I didn’t even realize I had won those last few holes. I guess I just kind of stay in the moment.”

Shea now faces Constantini, who also fended off her opponent — Wakefield’s Nancy Osier — on hole 17.

“It feels great (to get to the semifinals). I wasn’t expecting this,” Shea said. “Jean was in our foursome today — that was the first time I’ve seen her play an entire game. She did very well. She’s very consistent like I am. I’m thinking it’s probably going to be a good match. She hits the ball consistently, so that’s all we need to do to see who comes out on top.”

Championship matches in each of the other four flights that make up the rest of the field — including the president’s flight (losers in the quarterfinals) — will also tee off this morning shortly after the semifinals begin.