Troy Johnson of Maple Grove came into the Men’s Executive Division at the Resorters Tournament this year as a strong favorite after rolling to his first title in 2018.

Johnson has about 20-25 friends and family members that he spends time with the whole week of the tournament. Any pressure that he feels being a returning champ in the field stems more from wanting to make sure he can come back each year to the Resorters than it does from trying to live up to any expectations on the course.

“For me, I have a work conflict, so I can’t get into the regular (men’s) division,” Johnson said. “Every year, I have to be in Las Vegas over the weekend through about Tuesday. So for me, I have the pressure of winning so I can play next year. I can’t really get into the qualifying, so if I don’t win, I really can’t come back. It’s a really enjoyable week up here, so that’s more my motivation than anything.”

Defending champions in each division get an automatic ticket into the following year’s tournament. Johnson solidified his spot in the 2020 event by winning another Executive Division championship when he beat Dan Johnson of Elk River on Saturday by a 4-2 score.

“It was a long day, but it was more of a mental game than anything,” Troy said. “I held in there because both matches I got off to a really bad start. I told myself to stay in it and that I know I can hit the shot. It was more plotting along and making pars and then hopefully hitting some shots in there close to make some putts.”

Johnson had to go through a four-time Resorters champion in the semifinals on Saturday morning to make the championship match that afternoon. Daryl Schomer of St. Cloud gave him as close of a match as Johnson faced all week, but he prevailed in a 2-1 final.

“I know Daryl is consistent,” Johnson said. “He’s always going to be right in there. I got off to a bad start, and I felt like if I could just be consistent going forward that I’d have a good chance. That’s really what it took.”

Johnson fell behind by one hole through three against Dan Johnson in the finals. His bogey on No. 3 opened the door for Dan, but Troy has been in these situations before. The longtime tournament player was 1-up at the turn and then used a birdie and two pars on Nos. 14, 15 and 16 to wrap up the match.

“It’s huge,” Troy said of falling back on his experience in tournaments. “You know your game is there and you can come back. It’s really what keeps you going. You have the confidence to know you can get your game back a little bit if you’re struggling at the beginning.”

Johnson rolled through the week without much resistance early before taking a couple closer matches on Saturday. His reward was a chance to return for another run next summer.

“It means a lot,” Troy said. “It’s fun for family and friends to be here, and it’s the only way I can come back. If I win, I get to come back, so that means a lot.”