Stage is set for the final rounds at Resorters
The 93rd Resorters golf tournament will crown seven champions in championship flights on Saturday as the fields were cut in half once again on Friday. Here is a look at how all the divisions stand with youngsters stealing the show in the Women's Division, high-pressure putts in the Men's Executive Division and all the locals left out of the final four in the Men's Regular Division.
For the first time in three years, an Alexandrian won’t carry home the Resorters’ Men’s Division trophy.
The two remaining Alexandria golfers went down in defeat yesterday – Derek Swedberg and Austin McCulloch, and another local golfer, Jeremy Decko of Carlos, was also stopped.
One of the Vangsness brothers, Casey or Ben, has won the title the last three years but they were both eliminated Thursday.
There is a local connection still in the hunt, however. Jacob Montplaisir of Gilbert, Arizona, a 2-1 winner over Swedberg, is the grandson of Wayne Elton of Alexandria, a long-time competitor in the Resorters tournament.
The three other golfers in the final four are Nick Heinen of Edmond, OK, Jaques Wilson of Victoria and Grady Meyer of West Fargo.
Of the four, only Heinen has a Resorters’ title. He’s the 2009 and 2011 Junior Division (13 to 15) champion. Heinen, now 18, was also last year’s runner-up.
Today’s semifinals will begin at 7:06 a.m. from No. 1. The winners will advance to the final match, which is expected to start at about 1 p.m.
The gallery following the Men’s Division matches yesterday saw some nail-biters. All four matches went at least 17 holes. Here’s a recap.
MEYER DEF. DECKO, 2-1
After falling behind early, it took 13 holes for Meyer to draw even with Decko, but once he did, the momentum shifted his way and he won two of the next four holes to advance to the quarterfinals.
Decko grabbed the early lead with par wins on Nos. 1 and 3. Meyer answered with a par win on No. 4 but couldn’t get any closer on the front nine. He even shot a birdie on No. 6 but Decko matched it. Deco added a par win on No. 8 to go 2-up.
On the back, both golfers parred the first two holes before Grady finally made his move. He won the 12th hole with a birdie and then made another birdie on the par-3 13th to deadlock the match.
After both golfers halved the next hole with pars, Meyer’s par on No. 15 put him in the lead.
They parred the next hole before Meyer put the match away with a par on No. 17 to win it, 2-1.
WILSON DEF. A. HEINEN, 2-1
A fast start carried Wilson, a 20-year-old student, to a tightly played victory over Alec Heinen of Edmond, OK, the brother of semifinalist, Nick Heinen.
After halving No. 1 with par, Wilson won the next three holes with nothing but birdies.
Heinen stopped the bleeding with a par win on No. 5 followed by a birdie win on the 6th hole but Wilson’s par on No. 9 put him 2-up at the turn.
Wilson added a birdie win on No. 12 and a par win on No. 13 to go 4-up but the match was far from over. Heinen roared back with birdies on Nos. 14 and 16 to take the match into the 17th hole. Pars gave Wilson a 2-1 victory.
MONTPLAISIR DEF. SWEDBERG, 2-1
Swedberg fell into a big hole early against Montplaisir that he couldn’t dig himself out of, especially with Montplaisir making so many pars and birdies.
Montplaisir, a 20-year-old student who plays out of the Mesa Country Club, won the first three holes with par. Swedberg ended the string with a par win on No. 4 but Montplaisir birdied No. 6 to go 3-up again.
Swedberg responded with a birdie win on the next hole but could only match Montplaisir’s pars on the next two holes so he trailed by two at the turn.
After swapping pars on No. 10, Swedberg took advantage of a rare Montplaisir bogey on No. 11 to draw within one.
Montplaisir refused to crack, however. He matched Swedberg’s birdie and par on the next two holes and moved back to 2-up with a birdie on No. 14.
Nothing but pars on the next three holes gave Montplaisir a 2-1 victory.
N. HEINEN DEF. MCCULLOCH, 1-UP
Heinen shot an even-par on the day and it was just barely good enough to defeat Alexandria’s McCulloch.
McCulloch had the edge on the front nine. He won Nos. 2 and 6 with birdie, par while Heinen could muster only one win, a par on No. 5.
After crossing the road, they both swapped birdies and pars before McCulloch made an eagle on the par-5 12th to go 2-up.
That’s when Heinen calmly staged a comeback, winning the next two holes with par, birdie to deadlock the match and then taking No. 16 with birdie to move into the lead for the first time.
They both parred Nos. 17 and 18 to end the match.
MEN'S EXECUTIVE DIVISION
A match that featured a former champion and a division medalist ended the way one might expect on Friday evening – sort of.
Tim Peterson, a 2011 Executive Division champion, and top-seed Andy Petersen needed 20 holes to decide the outcome, but even the winner wished it would have ended a little differently after a missed putt inside five feet by Peterson left Andy Petersen in the semifinals of the Execs field.
“I assumed it would have to be a birdie,” Petersen said of beating a player as good as Peterson. “I hit that nice [approach] shot into two there. I certainly thought I had to make that to win, and I feel bad that it ended that way. That’s a crummy way for it to end after that good of a match.”
They weren’t the only ones who needed a playoff. Their counterparts in the foursome also went extras before Jeff Johnson sank a birdie putt to beat Michael Hanson in 19 holes. Joining them off the first tee at 6:54 this morning will be Nick Paulsen and Dave Carothers.
Here’s a closer look at how each of them got to this point.
PETERSEN DEF. PETERSON, 20-HOLES
Andy Petersen and Tony Peterson have been two of the best players in the Men’s Executive Division all week, which is why Friday’s playoff holes were a little surprising.
Petersen said after the win that both guys probably feel they could have played better throughout the match, but it’s all about surviving and advancing at this point. Petersen did that with the help of a great second shot on the second playoff hole that left him within about five feet.
Tim Peterson missed his birdie putt from the fringe as he ran it past the cup by a few feet. That meant Petersen had a chance to wrap things up with a birdie but his putt also went long by a foot.
That left Peterson needing to make his par putt to force a third playoff hole. He took his time to get a read, but his miss left Petersen the winner of a match that was close all afternoon.
“I wish I would have just made that putt for birdie and had it end that way instead of the way it did,” Petersen said. “But it is what it is.”
Petersen was just happy to get to that second playoff hole after a golden opportunity slipped away from him on the first. Tim Peterson outdistanced everybody on his drive off the first tee box, but ran into some bad luck with his ball rolling under a tree in the left rough, just short of the green.
That forced him to punch out, while Petersen was sitting pretty with a short chip shot. He knew a par would probably win it, but Petersen’s second shot rolled off the back of the green. All of a sudden, Tim Peterson had a par putt for the win that just lipped out.
“I’m sitting there going, ‘I’m probably going to win.’ Then all of a sudden he’s got a 10-footer to win it. It’s kind of like, ‘What the heck happened here?’ So I was definiltey happy to get over to the second hole again.”
He made good on that new life to seal the deal in what was an impressive comeback. Peterson led by three at the turn after a birdie win on 1 and par wins on 3, 4 and 9. That’s usually it for opponents against Peterson, but Andy battled back with par wins on 10 and 14 and a birdie win on 12 to tie it.
He grabbed his first lead on 16 with another par win. Peterson had an answer, though. He used a birdie of his own on 17 to even things back up with a putt that forced a playoff after both players parred 18.
It’s been a nice run to the semifinals for Petersen this week after not playing in the tournament for almost 15 years. He grew up playing the Resorters and competed in it for about eight years before his job and his family took precedence.
The 36-year-old from Albert Lea is now making good on his first time back in the field in many years. He’ll have a chance to take it a step further against Jeff Johnson of Chaska in the semifinals.
“I’m very excited,” Petersen said of that opportunity. “Jeff’s a great guy. I just met him today and he lives next door to some old friends of mine from Albert Lea, so we have some mutual friends. We’ll have a blast.”
J. JOHNSON DEF.
Johnson got to this point by outlasting Hanson through one playoff hole after Johnson tied things up with a par win on 18.
That brought them to the first tee, where both players hit nice drives that left them sitting in the fairway. They followed that up with a couple beautiful approach shots as well to leave things up to the putters.
Hanson was first on his birdie attempt. He lined things up from around 10 feet and just missed on his opportunity. That left the door open for Johnson, and he seized his chance by sneaking in his birdie putt from inside five feet that went halfway around the hole before dropping.
Johnson had trailed by two at the turn before making his comeback. He got a par win on 11 and another win on 13 that evened things up. Hanson took back his lead on 16 with a birdie win before Johnson answered with the win on 18 to tie it.
It was a good day for the Johnson family. Jeff’s son, Davis, won his Junior 10-12 championship flight match with a long birdie putt in the morning with him caddying. In the evening, it was a birdie putt of his own that kept his hopes alive for a title.
Dave Carothers advanced to the Executive Division field of four by winning every hole played on the back nine in a 6-4 victory over Dave Dilley.
Carothers built an early 2-up lead thanks two pars on Nos. 1 and 3. The lead dwindled to 1-up after play on the front nine was completed as Dilly won two holes by a birdie on No. 4 and a par on No. 7, while Carothers carded only one victory with a birdie on No. 6.
But five straight victories for Carothers ended things for Dilley. The streak included an eagle on No. 12, defeating a tap-in birdie by Dilley. Carothers also carded two birdies on Nos. 11 and 14 and two pars on Nos. 10 and 13. The final straw was the win on No. 14, giving Carothers a 6-4 victory.
Nick Paulsen used a hot start on the front nine to build a 4-up lead on his way to a 4-2 victory over Mike Lueck.
Paulsen grabbed an early 3-up lead thanks to a birdie on No. 2 and pars on Nos. 3 and 4. Lueck won his first hole of the day on No. 6 with a par, but Paulsen rebounded for a 4-up lead thanks to a par on No. 7 and a birdie on No. 8.
The two golfers traded holes on the back nine before a birdie for Paulsen on No. 16 gave him a 4-2 victory.
This is Paulsen’s first time in the Executive Division after playing in the Men’s Division in year’s past. He has never made it past the first round of championship flight action.
Today won’t be the first time that Paulsen and Carothers have met. They play a friendly Ryder Cup style tournament at Dakota Ridge in Redwood Falls every summer.
“He’s a solid golfer,” Paulsen said of Carothers. “It should be wire-to-wire if we both play right on our game.”
MEN'S SENIOR DIVISION
The Senior Men’s Division semifinal match-ups featured plenty of action Friday as both needed playoff holes to determine who would earn a spot in the championship round.
Jeff Pederson defeated J.T Johnson in 19 holes, and Jim Arnold also needed 19 holes before a tap-in par gave him a much contested victory.
Pederson and Johnson will face off in the Senior Men’s Division finals today, teeing off from the AGC No. 1 at 12:20 p.m. Here is a look at how they got there:
JOHNSON, 19 HOLES
Pederson stormed ahead to a 4-up lead early against Johnson, but he later lost the advantage and needed 19 holes to grab a semifinals victory and a spot in the Senior Division championship.
Pederson grabbed the early 4-up lead by carding pars on Nos. 1, 3 and 4 and a birdie on No. 2. That advantage dropped to 2-up after play was complete on the front-nine as Johnson birdied Nos. 6 and 8.
Pederson’s lead vanished altogether as Johnson carded two more birdies on Nos. 11 and 12.
Johnson then took a brief 1-up lead with a birdie on No. 14, but Pederson birdied No. 15 to square the match once again.
The two golfers carded pars on the final four holes, sending the match to a playoff.
On the first playoff hole, Johnson hit his ball out of bounds and decided to concede a birdie to Pederson for the win. This will be the first Resorters Division championship match for Pederson as the furthest he had previously qualified is the quarterfinals.
GERGEN, 19 HOLES
Arnold got the last laugh over Gergen as he tapped in a par putt in a one-hole playoff to grab a spot in the finals.
Arnold took what looked like a commanding 3-up lead in the match as he won the first three holes. Pars on Nos. 1 and 3 and a birdie on No. 2 gave Arnold the 3-up victory.
But Gergen pared No. 4 and bogeyed No. 5 to reduce Arnold’s lead to only 1-up, where it remained after play was completed on the first nine holes.
Three straight wins for Gergen on the back nine gave him a 2-up lead for the first time in the match. Gergen carded a birdie on No. 12 and pars on Nos. 13 and 14 to grab the advantage.
The lead did not last long, however, as Arnold birdied No. 15 and parred No. 16 to square the match heading into the final two holes. Both golfers parred Nos. 17 and 18, sending the match to a playoff.
In the extra hole, Arnold teed off with a hybrid and drove his ball to the No. 1 gulley. Then his approach shot was spot on, leaving him a birdie putt only 15 feet from the cup. Meanwhile, Gergen hit a poor chip shot, requiring an extra stroke for him to reach the green. Arnold missed his birdie opportunity but tapped in for a par and a 1-up victory.
After the match, Arnold had a little fun with his age going up against a field of younger competitors.
“It’s hard on my old nerves,” he said.
Two Resorters tournament veterans will face off in today’s Masters’ Division championship match.
George Cliff, a four-time Senior Division and two-time Men’s Executive Division champion, will face off against Alexandria’s Dave Harris – who also has two previous Senior Division titles under his belt.
The two have played each other numerous times in the tournament. Harris said that Cliff probably has the edge.
Cliff got here by defeating another tournament veteran in Ron Clayton, 3-2, while Harris fended off Albert Lea’s Larry Petersen in a tight match 1-up after 19 holes.
Harris and Cliff will square off for the Masters’ Division title starting at AGC No. 1 at 12:20 p.m.
A key three-hole winning streak for Cliff at the beginning of the back-nine helped him defeat the five-time Masters’ Division champion Clayton 3-2.
The golfers finished the front nine all-square before Cliff went to work on the next three holes. Two pars on Nos. 10 and 11 and a birdie on No. 12 gave Cliff a 3-up lead that he held for the rest of the match. The two players carded pars on the next three holes before both shot birdies on No. 16 to finish at 3-2.
Neither Cliff nor Clayton could gain any traction over the first nine holes of the match. Cliff took an early lead with a par on No. 2, but Clayton carded a par on No. 4 to tie the match.
Cliff took another 1-up lead with a par on No. 5, but a birdie for Clayton on No. 7 squared the match once again.
They traded the final two holes with a birdie for Cliff on No. 8 and a par for Clayton on No. 9.
PETERSEN, 19 HOLES
Harris carded a key birdie in a playoff hole on AGC No. 1 to defeat Petersen in a razor thin match to grab a spot in the finals.
Harris and Petersen found themselves all-square after 18 holes, but only needed the one playoff to determine who would have a spot in the finals.
A 1-up lead is the largest advantage either of the golfers could grab in this razor-thin match. Harris grabbed the first lead by carding a par on No. 2, but Petersen erased that with a birdie on No. 6.
Petersen birdied No. 7 to grab another 1-up lead, but Harris carded a birdie of his own the next hole to tie the match.
On the back nine, Harris parred No. 10 to retake the lead before Petersen tied the match with a birdie on No. 13.
Harris claimed another lead with a par on No. 15, but Petersen squared the match once again with a par on No. 17.
With both players carding pars on No. 18, the match headed back to AGC No. 1 for the playoff.
Petersen had about a 27-foot birdie putt that ended close enough for a gimme. Harris, looking at a 25-footer, was just trying to knock it near enough for an easy par but ended up draining the putt for the win.
The hole has been friendly for Harris over the years. He recalled three other big playoff wins on it in the past, all birdies.
“It was a good, close match all the way,” said Harris, who never trailed after the 7th hole. “I played hard, hit the ball well and made good decisions out there. I felt fortunate to win. Larry’s a very good player.”
Harris is looking forwarding to squaring off against Cliff today. “We always have good, close matches.”
Harris has played in all but one or two Resorters tournaments since 1967. “Such a great group of people come to this tournament,” he said. “It’s like old home week.”
In a field that featured Resorters champs and current, former and future college golfers, it’s two of the youngest players who will likely be in that same category someday that will play for the Women’s Division title.
Osakis’ Alayna Eldred continued her incredible run through the division by upending future Hofstra University golfer, Amanda Bigger. Joining the 14-year-old on the first tee this afternoon at 12:40 will be 17-year-old Jenna Janu of Glenwood.
Janu had to go through her older sister to get here, but she got the job done in a 1-up match that gave her some family bragging rights.
“It was fun,” Jenna said. “We were kind of both just like, ‘Whatever happens, happens. Let’s just have fun today.’ However it turns out, just be happy with one another. You always want to beat your sister, especially your older sister, but it was a lot of fun today.”
Here’s a closer look at how both she and Eldred got to Saturday’s finals.
A run that seemed improbably even to Eldred coming into the week is now one win away from a perfect ending.
Bigger had the home-course advantage over Eldred, but her game just wasn’t working on Friday afternoon. Bigger had just one win on the front that came with a par on No. 3. She opened the door by carding five bogeys on the front, and Eldred took advantage of that with par wins on 5, 7 and 8 to take a 3-up lead into the turn.
Bigger got one back on the 10th by making a par putt from inside 10 feet, but Eldred stole one on 11 with a bogey win.
Both players went back and forth a little bit on the back. Bigger got within two again after a par win on 12, while Eldred answered with a par win of her own on 13. Bigger knew she needed to make a run soon and tried to do that with a birdie win on 14 and a par win on 15 to cut her deficit to one hole.
But like she has all week, Eldred found a way to close. The soon-to-be freshman has played well in pressure situations the past few days, and it happened again as she was steady over the final two holes with a couple of pars that ended things after 17.
JENNA JANU DEF.
Jenna Janu is a player who has proven herself at the high school level for Minnewaska with her most recent season ending with a 16th-place individual finish at the Class AA state tournament.
After this run through the Resorters field, she’ll take a little more momentum into her senior year. Janu already had some nice wins this week, but her win over her older sister might have been the toughest match.
Brianna Janu will be a junior golfer at South Dakota State University this upcoming season, but she couldn’t quite hold off Jenna down the stretch on Friday. Neither player was able to gain much separation as they made the turn all square after Brianna got a par win on No. 9.
She quickly got her first lead on No. 10 by sinking a birdie putt. That’s how they went through the next four holes with Brianna clinging to that 1-up lead.
Jenna had a little more in the end. She used a par win on 15 to pull even as the two went into 18 all square. Brianna wasn’t going to give the match away, so Jenna had to take it. That’s exactly what she did as she used a birdie win on 18 to secure the match.
“I was hitting the ball pretty well and I putted really well today,” Jenna said. “That’s pretty much what kept me in the match.”
Both Eldred and Janu admitted throughout the week that they came into the tournament not necessarily expecting to be in this position. They both had to go through talented golfers, and for Janu, a lot of those in the field are friends and former teammates from Minnewaska.
“It’s fun to beat people that are good players,” Jenna said. “I had some tough matches and I played well and beat some good players, which is exciting and gives me more confidence.”
Janu knows she’ll have to go through another good player today to bring home the title. Eldred finished just in front of her at the state tournament by shooting two strokes lower and finishing tied for 12th at the Class AA meet.
It should make for a tightly contested match-up for two players who are ready to enjoy the experience of a championship match.
“Just to have fun,” Janu said. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m in the finals. I really didn’t expect to be here, but I’m here and Alayna is a great player. She’s played really well this week, so if I lose to a good player, I lose to a good player.”
JUNIOR 13-15 DIVISION
Top-seeded Reece Sanders earned a spot in the Junior 13-15 Division finals for a showdown with the flight’s second seed Ben Sigel.
The Friday matchups featured friends, as three of the four golfers who competed in the division’s semifinals on Thursday all have more in common than just their residence in the Lake Minnetonka area. Deephaven’s Sigel, Sanders, and Tonka Bay’s Miles McCarthy are actually neighbors who enjoy spending time together over a round of golf.
Now buddies Sanders and Sigel will square off the Junior 13-15 Division championship match. They will tee off at noon from the AGC No. 1 along with the division’s consolation championship match.
Sanders lost an early 4-up lead to a charging Zosel on the back nine, but he still came out with a 1-up victory after 18 holes.
Sanders grabbed the early 3-up lead thanks to pars on Nos. 1, 2 and 3. Sanders later added to the lead with a birdie on No. 8, but Zosel also carded a birdie on the next hole for his first win of the day.
Zosel made things interesting on the back nine, executing a move to tie the match by winning three of the first five holes on the back-nine. Zosel completed the comeback with pars on Nos. 10, 13 and 14.
The golfers halved the next four holes, setting up a final showdown on No. 18. Sanders pulled off the victory as he parred the hole while Zosel carded a bogey.
McCarthy tried his best to come back from a four-hole deficit on the back nine, but Sigel held on by a thread to grab a 1-up victory and a spot in the finals.
Sigel took a 4-up lead into the turn after a strong showing on the front nine. McCarthy jumped out to an early 1-up lead thanks to a par on No. 1, but over the next eight holes Sigel made his move. Sigel parred Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 while also carding a birdie on No. 8 to take what appeared to be a commanding 4-up lead.
But McCarthy started to make his move on the back-nine. He carded pars on Nos. 13 and 15 while also scoring a birdie on No. 14 to reduce Sigel’s lead to 1-up.
But that would be it as both players carded pars on Nos. 16, 17 and 18, sealing a close victory for Sigel and a spot in the finals.
JUNIOR 10-12 DIVISION
A spot in the finals of the Junior 10-12 Division came down to some pressure putts by all parties involved on Friday morning.
Braeden Sladek versus Davis Johnson and Gabe McKeown versus Grant Rebrovich proved to be tight matches that came down to the 18th green. In the end, it was Johnson and McKeown who survived 1-up contests to advance to today’s finals on the 10th tee at 8:20 a.m.
Here’s a look at how each of them got here.
Sladek came into this match as the top seed and fresh off a 4-3 win in the semifinals, but he lost in heartbreaking fashion as Johnson sank a near 20-foot putt on 18 for a true birdie that gave him the 1-up victory.
Johnson had taken a one-hole lead onto the 17th box when he hit his tee shot into the bunker. He needed two shots to get out of that trouble and Sladek was sitting pretty after hitting his first shot on the par three to the deep, right side of the green.
Johnson ended up conceding that hole to Sladek, which set up a fight for the match on 18. Johnson hit his approach shot on the right side of the green after a nice drive. He stepped up to the ball knowing he needed to make par to at least force a playoff. Instead, he did one better as he sank his long birdie putt to end his match in style.
“Not really,” Johnson said when asked if he was nervous when he stepped up to putt. “I just wanted to two-putt it.”
Neither player was ever separted by more than one hole in this one. Johnson struck first with a par win on 10 before Sladek used a par win on 13 to even things back up. He took his first lead one hole later with another par win, but it was Johnson who had an answer with back-to-back wins on 15 and 16. That set up an entertaining final two holes as Johnson ended his match with a little magic to secure the win.
Johnson’s reward will be a battle with McKeown after last year’s runner-up secured his spot back in the championship match with a win over Alexandria’s Grant Rebrovich.
Rebrovich struck first in this one with a birdie win on No. 11 after he sank a nice putt from the fringe to the right of the cup. McKeown didn’t dwell on that and immediately answered back with a par win on 12 and another on 14. His par win on 16 moved McKeown to 2-up with two to play.
Rebrovich put the pressure on the next hole. He stuck his tee shot on the deep side of the green and both he and McKeown had par putts from about five feet. Rebrovich sank his, while McKeown sent his wide to set up an 18th hole.
Once there, both players ran into some tree trouble on their tee shots. McKeown had a chance to put away the match himself on the green but missed a short putt that would have ended it. Rebrovich had one last chance on a short putt, but it went off line as McKeown held on for the win.