Resorters Golf Tournament: Power houses surge ahead in Senior DivisionEmpanger eyes fourth straight championship.
When you’re hot, you’re hot.
That was the mantra in the opening round of match play in the Resorters Senior Men’s Championship Tuesday. Those who qualified for the tournament with solid rounds continued to sizzle.
With just one exception, the top-seeded golfers kept any early jitters at bay by getting past their first opponent.
The lone upset came in the bottom bracket when 23rd-seeded Bill Freeman of Alexandria knocked out 10th-seeded Phil Link, 6-4.
Defending champion Jon Empanger of Chaska kept his dream of a fourth straight title alive with a match that was all over after just 13 holes.
Other perennial powerhouses also advanced, including Greg Mattson of Becker (2010 runner-up), Dave Battey of Alexandria (2011 semi-finalist), Steve Herzog of Alexandria (1992 Executive Division champion), Bill Freeman of Alexandria (last year’s runner-up) and Jim Arnold of Plymouth (last year’s medalist).
Here’s a recap of yesterday’s matches:
Empanger lost the first hole against Todd Nelson of Barrett with a bogey but that was his only misstep of the day. The three-time champ racked up five wins on the front, highlighted by birdies on Nos. 2, 5 and 6, to take a comfortable 4-up lead at the turn.
Empanger poured it on from there, winning No. 10 with birdie, matching Nelson’s next two pars and then icing the match with a par win on No. 13.
J. Pederson def.
It took 17 holes before Jeff Pederson of Haymarket, VA outlasted Norty Blanchard of Burnsville, 2-1.
It was a dogfight from the beginning. After Pederson won the first hole with a par, Blanchard pulled even with a par win on No. 3 and they matched each other through the next six holes.
Blanchard finally broke the logjam with a nifty birdie on No. 10 to take a 1-up lead. Blanchard dazzled onlookers with an eagle on No. 12 to go 2-up but watched his advantage fly away with losses on the next two holes.
Pederson continued his comeback with a third straight win on No. 15, a par, to take his first lead since the first hole. He matched Blanchard’s par on No. 16 and then sealed the win with a birdie on the 17th green.
Mattson def. G. Pederson, 6-5
Mattson played mistake-free golf against Gary Pederson of Bakersfield, CA through the front nine, carding eight pars and a birdie on the long 6th hole to build a 5-up lead.
Pederson finally struck for a win, a birdie on No. 11, but any chance of a miracle comeback quickly vanished when Mattson took Nos. 12 and 13 with birdie, par to close out the match.
Battey def. Lodge, 2-1
It was a rollercoaster of a match against Dave Lodge of Champlin, but Battey ended up on top, gaining momentum on the back nine to eke out a 2-1 win.
After Lodge won No. 1 with a par, Battey roared back with a trio of wins on Nos. 4, 5 and 6, going birdie, birdie, par. Lodge answered with a similar flurry, taking Nos. 7, 8 and 9 with two pars and a bogey to steal a 1-up lead at the turn.
Battey’s par won No. 10 to tie the match and he surged ahead with a birdie on No. 12. Lodge knotted the match back up with a par win on No. 13 only to fall behind on the next hole when Battey made par.
After both golfers settled for par on the next two holes, Battey was able to end the match with a par win on No. 17.
Herzog def. Vipond, 4-2
It may not have been Herzog’s best round of golf but he made shots when he needed to during his 4-2 victory over Tom Vipond of Woodstock, GA.
Herzog was 5-over par after the first five holes but was able to stay even with Vipond. Herzog won No. 3 with a bogey while Vipond’s bogey was a winner on No. 4.
Both golfers broke out of their funk in a big way on No. 6 – matching each other’s eagles. Herzog made par to win No. 7, padded his lead with another par on No. 8 but Vipond drew to within one at the turn with a par on No. 9.
Herzog didn’t drop any holes on the back nine. He won No. 10 with birdie to go 2-up, matched Vipond on the next four holes and then locked up the win in dramatic fashion with back-to-back birdies on No. 15 and 16.
Bergner def. Chesley, 1-up
Jim Bergner of San Antonio, TX waited until the back nine to catch fire against Bob Chesley of Mankato.
Chesley built a 2-up lead on the front, winning Nos. 1 and 2 with par, and No. 5 with a birdie while Bergner managed just one win, hole 6. Bergner won Nos. 10 and 13 with pars to make it all square but Chesley regained the lead with a par win on No. 15.
Bergner, however, held firm, winning Nos. 16 and 17 with pars to take the lead for the first time. He then matched Chesley’s par on the final hole to preserve a 1-up victory.
Ryan def. Johnson, 8-6
Tom Ryan of Edina pounded away at Alexandria’s Darryl Johnson from the get-go, winning the first two holes with birdie, par. Johnson rallied with a par win on No. 4 but it proved to be his lone bright spot of the day.
Ryan won the last four holes on the front with a birdie and three pars to take a commanding 5-up lead at the turn. Ryan didn’t let the momentum slip away. He won Nos. 10, 11 and 12 with a par and two birdies to coast to an 8-6 victory.
Strassburg def. Stueven, 4-3
Bruce Stueven of Carlos just couldn’t gain any ground against Al Strassburg of Clear Lake. The best he could do was bogey through the first six holes and Strassburg took advantage, carding par wins on No. 4, 5 and 6 to go 3-up.
Stueven won No. 8 with a par but Strassburg quickly came back with a par win on No. 9 to go 3-up at the turn.
Stueven won No. 11 with par to get within two, but Strassburg didn’t crack. He won No. 13 with par and ended the match with a par win on the 15th hole.
Novotny def. Matanich, 5-3
It was a close battle between Alexandria’s Larry Novotny and Mark Matanich of Lake City through the first nine holes. Novotny struck for wins on Nos. 3, 7 and 9 with par, par, birdie while Matanich carded par wins on Nos. 2 and 6.
After both golfers bogeyed the 10th hole, Novotny kicked his game up a notch, winning the next four holes with three straight birdies and a par, which sealed a 5-3 victory.
Hanson def. Rolfzen, 3-1
A streak of four straight wins on the front nine propelled Alexandria’s Brad Hanson over Gary Rolfzen of St. Cloud.
Rolfzen won No. 2 with par before Hanson’s streak changed the whole complexion of the match. Hanson’s four straight pars gave him a 3-up lead. Rolfzen tried to scramble back, winning No. 7 with a par but he could do no better than match Hanson on the next six holes.
Still trailing by two, Rolfzen made things interesting with a par win on No. 14. Hanson, however, shut the door after that, winning Nos. 15 and 17 with pars for a 3-1 triumph.
Falls def. Feriancek, 1-up
Bob Falls of Edina held off a late charge from Rick Feriancek of Alexandria to preserve a 1-up win.
The momentum swung wildly throughout the match. Feriancek broke out of the gate quickly with par wins on Nos. 1 and 2 but Falls quickly closed the gap with par wins on the next two holes. Feriancek regained the lead on No. 5 with par but Falls took Nos. 7 and 8 with birdie, par to go 1-up.
After Feriancek deadlocked the match with a par win on No. 9, Falls jumped back into the lead with a par on No. 10 and added two big par wins on Nos. 13 and 15 to go 3-up.
Feriancek wasn’t about to bow out easily, however. He staged a comeback with par wins on Nos. 16 and 17 to force another hole. That’s where Falls matched Feriancek’s par to scratch out a 1-up win.
Freeman def. Link, 6-4
Freeman never lost a hole against Phil Link yesterday. He snapped up three wins on the front nine, Nos. 2, 4 and 9 with par, par, bogey and then kept the pressure on as the two crossed the road.
Freeman won Nos. 11 and 12 with birdie, par and closed out the match with a bogey win on No. 14.
Arnold def. Dube, 2-1
Jim Arnold of Plymouth had to gut it out against Robert Dube of Hastings — they both matched each other on the final five holes – but it was enough for a hard-fought win.
Arnold drew first blood with a birdie win on No. 1 and took No. 4 with par to go 2-up. Dube quickly responded with par wins on the next two holes to tie the match.
Arnold regained the lead with par wins on Nos. 7 and 8 but Dube’s birdie won the 9th hole to keep the difference at one. Arnold won No. 10 with birdie but Dube again answered with a birdie on No. 12 to stay within one.
Arnold won No. 13 with a bogey and the rest of the holes were halved.
Zinn def. Kulow, 1-up in 19
In the afternoon’s closest match, Byron Zinn of Spicewood, TX had to go 19 holes against Tim Kulow of Villard, even though he never fell behind.
Zinn won the first two holes and held the lead until Kulow took No. 5. Zinn won the 6th hole and kept his 2-up lead through the 11th hole.
Kulow was relentless, however, winning No. 12 to pull within one and then matching Zinn on the next five holes to force the match to 18. Kulow won the hole to take the match into overtime, where Zinn finally nailed down the victory.
Hartman def. Southward, 5-4
Mike Hartmann of Red Wing won four holes on the front nine against Tom Southward of Alexandria that proved to be pivotal. The wins came on Nos. 2, 3, 6 and 7 through birdie, bogey, birdie, par. Southward, meanwhile, won just one hole on the front, a par on No. 1.
Southward hung tough with a par win on No. 11 to draw within two but Hartman quickly squelched any thoughts of a comeback by winning Nos. 12, 13 and 14 with pars to cap a 5-4 victory.
Westerham def. Flesch, 2-1
It was a dogfight of a match but Randy Westerham of Eden Prairie strung together three key wins on the back nine to nose out Michael Flesch of Neenah, WI, 2-1.
Westerham edged out in front early by winning Nos. 4 (bogey), 7 (par) and 9 (par) while Flesch took No. 6 with birdie. Trailing by two at the turn, Flesch rallied with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 to tie the match.
Westerham birdied No. 13 to regain the lead and then kept the pressure on with par wins on Nos. 14 and 15. Flesch drew to within two with a par win on No. 16 but could only match Westerham’s par on 17 to end the shootout.