Resorters Golf Tournament: Vangsness wins back-to-back Men's titlesHe defeated Rose in the division's closest final match since '02.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Ben Vangsness of Alexandria accomplished a feat no Resorters Men’s Division entrant has done since 2003 – successfully defend their title.
He had to knock off Jerry Rose of Sarasota, Florida, the Resorters champion in 1979, 1983 and 2000, to do it.
The 24-year-old accountant with CliftonLarsonAllen in Alexandria edged Rose, 54, 2-1 at the Alexandria Golf Course Saturday afternoon. It was the division’s closest final match since 2002.
Vangsness advanced to the finals after winning a pressure-filled 19-hole match against Dylan Gergen of Mendota Heights in the semis. Rose got there by toppling Collin Wittiak of Columbia, South Carolina, 3-2.
Under partly cloudy skies and a strong gusting wind, Vangsness tamed the course with an even-par round while Rose was 1-over for the day.
This, of course, was match play and Rose took the early lead with a birdie on No. 1. Vangsness tied it with a par on the next hole and moved into the lead with a birdie win on No. 4 followed by a par win on the 5th hole.
Vangsness hooked his drive into a tree on No. 6, ended up in the rough and eventually conceded the hole. Rose won No. 7 with par as well when Vangsness shanked his tee shot.
With the match all square, both golfers halved No. 8, giving each other short par putts.
A key point in the match happened on No. 9. Vangsness hit a monster drive down the middle of the fairway and later sunk a nice birdie putt to regain the lead.
“That gave me some breathing room,” Vangsness said.
Vangsness followed it up with another birdie on No. 10 while Rose ended up in the trap and wasn’t able to get up and down.
“From there I just tried to make par to make Jerry birdie,” Vangsness said.
They both birdied No. 11. Vangsness’ nifty chip put the ball to within a couple feet of the cup, drawing big applause from the gallery.
After halving the par-5 12th, Rose, who was trailing by two, tried to mount a comeback, winning No. 13 with a solid par.
Vangsness made a pressure putt, a six-footer, for par to halve Rose on No. 14 and sank a shorter putt on the next hole to match Rose’s par and stay 1-up.
After both golfers parred No. 16, Vangsness finished the match in style. Teeing off on No. 17 in a strong crosswind, he hit the ball to the front fringe and chipped it a little short. Rose, meanwhile, was buried in the sand, blasted out of it but was still 12 feet from the cup. Vangsness sealed the win by dropping in his 15-footer for par while Rose’s try missed.
“My hat’s off to Jerry Rose,” said Vangsness after his big win. “I faced some fierce competition all this week.”
Vangsness has managed to squeeze in about three rounds of golf a week at the AGC. His match against Rose wasn’t the best he’d played in the tournament but it was good enough.
“The wind was tough,” Vangsness said. “Fortunately, I was able to make a few putts and kind of prevailed.”
The two have tangled before in the Resorters. Vangsness defeated him three years ago.
Will Vangsness be back to go for a third title next year? “I told my family that it would be either this [the Resorters] or WE Fest, and now since I won, I’ll be back.”