After sinking a putt on the 16th green, Senior Division champion Steve Herzog of Alexandria was greeted by the embrace of dozens of friends and family.
During the 2018 Resorters Golf Tournament at the Alexandria Golf Club, Herzog was rushed to a Fargo hospital with a rare blood disorder called Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, or TTP. See last Friday’s issue of the Echo Press for a full story on that.
It was a situation that could have cost Herzog his life after he spent eight days in the hospital, four of those in the intensive care unit. After a year of waiting, Herzog made his return to the Resorters a memorable one as he left with another championship.
“I was just fortunate enough to play,” Herzog said. “Winning and doing this well was unexpected. I feel very grateful for everything I have right now. It’s been a really heartwarming experience this week for me.”
Herzog beat Chris Haugen, the two-time defending champion from Alexandria, 4-2 on Saturday afternoon. Through the first five holes, Haugen and Herzog matched each other stroke-for-stroke. A birdie and a par on Nos. 6 and 7 put Herzog 2-up. Haugen double-bogeyed No.9, which gave Herzog a three-hole advantage heading into the turn.
“Chris is such a great player,” Herzog said. “I just decided to stay within myself and play my game. Chris didn’t have a great day, and I think he would say that himself. I just played steady. I was really happy with the way I played.”
Haugen got a hole back with a birdie on No. 10 but bogeyed on No. 12 to move Herzog back to 3-up. Herzog won the three par-5’s, including No. 14 with a birdie to go 4-up. Haugen made things interesting with a birdie on the 15th hole but bogeyed No. 16 as Herzog took the win.
“Chris is very intimidating because he hits the ball so far,” Herzog said. “I actually played better on the second day, but today I wanted to see if I could make pars and stay with him. It actually ended up being the par 5’s that helped me. I won all three of them when normally he would because he’s so long.”
The goal for Herzog was to play with consistency. After last year’s scare, he was just happy to be on the course. Winning his sixth Resorters title was secondary for him.
“I didn’t have a lot of birdies this week,” Herzog said. “I hit a lot of greens and was able to make pars. Sometimes that’s all you need in match play. I was very fortunate throughout the week and that’s especially so today.”
Herzog has a championship in the Men’s Championship Division, two in the Men’s Executive Division and three in the Men’s Senior Division. Next summer, he hopes to have another family moment on the green as he tries for his seventh title.
“Everybody is so supportive of our family here,” Herzog said. “It’s a joy to be so welcomed here and to rekindle with a lot of people. I’ll be back next year. I’m going to come here as long as they have me.”