For Red Wing’s Cecil Belisle, the 2019 Resorters Golf Tournament was a situation of being better late than never.
Belisle didn’t think he would even be in Alexandria for the Men’s Championship Division a week prior to the event. He always wanted to be, but he put his name into the entry list a little later and needed someone to drop out of the field for him to get a call. Good thing for him, that all came to fruition.
“It just means I’m lucky,” Belisle said with a smile. “I thank whoever it was who dropped out. It’s just fun to be here.”
Belisle is the 2019 Minnesota State High School League’s Class AA individual state champion and a two-time state champion overall. He will head to Minnesota State University-Mankato this fall to play for Alexandria native and Mavericks’ head coach Bryant Black.
Belisle beat Miles McCarthy, a junior at the University of St. Thomas, in Saturday’s title match by a 4-3 final after his par on hole 15 ended things early.
Belisle got to the championship by beating Andrew Lindberg during Saturday morning’s semifinals. McCarthy edged Thomas Lehman on Saturday to reach the finals.
“It means a lot,” Belisle said of winning Resorters. “Bryant Black was giving me crap with, ‘Well, you reached where I was.’ At one point, he was in the finals, and I was like, ‘Well, I’m going to break your (longest run).’”
Belisle did just that behind a solid approach all week. He was disappointed with his two qualifying rounds that left him seeded 18th after shooting rounds of 76 and 74.
From there, the format switched to match play where Belisle knocked off five straight players who were seeded better than him in the field.
“Honestly, my mental game and my putting was really solid,” he said of what carried him through match play.
Throughout the week, Belisle commented on how winning was almost secondary to him at Resorters. Having fun with friends and family in what is usually the last tournament of the summer for these players took precedence.
As he played with that care-free approach, the wins kept piling up. Maybe most notably was a 19-hole victory of second-seeded Ben Sigel, a junior at the University of Kansas, on Aug. 1. Sigel shot 7-under par through his two qualifying rounds and came into the tournament playing as well as anybody. Belisle wasn’t phased.
“It’s just relaxing. It just comes from me playing my game, taking it shot-by-shot and being all in all the time,” he said. “Anyone can be beaten out here. It doesn’t matter. Ben (Sigel) is probably a better player than me, but I beat him. It’s match play. It’s a whole different game than stroke play. Andrew Lindberg, Miles (McCarthy) -- everyone that I played were tough competitors. Anyone can be beaten out here, and it’s just all a mental game to me.”
Belisle really doesn’t believe in pressure. That’s why a putt on 14 on Saturday was just another shot for him, though it came in a big moment.
Belisle rolled on the front nine against McCarthy. He led by five at the turn, but McCarthy was mounting a bit of a challenge as he went par, birdie, birdie, par in the first four holes of the back to get his deficit down to three.
McCarthy sank a long putt on No. 14 for birdie that could have continued to apply pressure. Instead, Belisle calmly drained his birdie putt as well before parring 15 to end the match.
“I thought it was huge,” Belisle said of the putt on 14. “I could have easily mentally went sideways. I stuck in there and handled the pressure, even though there’s no such thing as pressure because it’s all in your head if you think there’s pressure. I think it was huge, probably one of the bigger putts of the tournament.”
Belisle joked with one of his friends leading into match play that he was feeling dangerous as someone who could make a run. Turns out he was exactly right.