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Medalist, former champs still in the hunt in Resorters Golf Tournament Senior Men's Championship

The championship field will be trimmed to eight after Wednesday’s matches. The action starts at 8:48 a.m. from the No. 1 tee at the Alexandria Golf Club, which is hosting the 100th Resorters Golf Tournament.

Mike Herzog Sand 5120.jpg
Mike Herzog escapes from the bunker on No. 5 in his opening round match in the Resorters Senior Men's Division Tuesday afternoon at the Alexandria Golf Club. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)

First round action in the Resorters Senior Men’s Division had a little bit of everything – upsets, comebacks, blowouts and nail-biters.

When the dust settled, medalist JT Johnson survived, along with defending champion Rick Vanyo; Mark Lindberg, who is a two-time champ in the Men’s Division; Chris Haugen, a two-time Senior Men’s titlist; and some familiar long-time Resorters competitors, including Rick Frieburg, Mike Herzog and Larry Montplaisir.

The championship field will be trimmed to eight after Wednesday’s matches. The action starts at 8:48 a.m. from the No. 1 tee at the Alexandria Golf Club, which is hosting the 100th Resorters Golf Tournament.

JT Johnson def. AJ Kluver, 2-1

JT Johnson knocked off the 2015 Resorters Senior Men’s Division champion, AJ Kluver.

But it wasn’t a walk in the park by any means. It took one heckuva comeback.

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At the beginning of the match, it appeared as if Kluver was shot out of a cannon. He claimed the first three holes with pars before Johnson stopped the onslaught with a par win on No. 4.

Kluver, however, regained his 3-up advantage with a birdie on No. 6. After both competitors halved the next two holes, Kluver birdied No. 9 to go 4-up at the turn.

That’s when Johnson caught fire, winning six straight holes, starting with three birdies and following it up with two pars and yet another birdie, this one on No. 15, to go 2-up.

Kluver tried to get back into it but he could only match Johnson’s pars on Nos. 16 and 17, which handed Johnson a miraculous 2-1 turnaround.

Abrahamson def. Redman, 3-1

Tom Abrahamson had to fend off a hard-charging Marc Redman to survive the first round.

After both golfers hit nothing but par 4s on the first three holes, Abrahamson broke through with back-to-back par wins on Nos. 4 and 5. His 2-up lead quickly vanished when Redman won the next three holes, thanks to a par and two birdies, to steal the lead.

After both men parred the 9th hole, Abrahamson flipped the match around with back-to-back par wins on Nos. 10 and 11. Undaunted, Redman won the 12th hole with birdie to square the match again.

The momentum then swung to Abrahamson, who won Nos. 13 and 14 with birdie, par to go 2-up. The lead held through the next two holes and Abrahamson iced the win with a par on No. 17 for a 3-1 victory.

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Haugen def. Freeman, 3-2

How close and well-played was the Jon Freeman-Chris Haugen match? If it had been stroke play, Freeman would have been 1-over-par and Haugen would have been 2-under for the day.

It was a tight match from the get-go. Freeman took the first lead with a birdie on No. 3 but Haugen, a two-time champ in the division, erased it with a par win on the next hole. The match stayed tied until No. 9 when Haugen’s par took the hole and gave him a 1-up lead at the turn.

Haugen’s birdie on No. 10 put him 2-up. Both golfers parred the next hole, birdied the par-5 No. 12 and settled for par on No. 13 before Haugen put the pressure on with a birdie on No. 14 to go 3-up. Both golfers shot nothing but pars on the next two holes, which preserved Haugen’s 3-2 win.

Gardiner def. Berg, 2-1

In a ping-pong like match, John Gardiner outlasted Chris Berg through 17 holes for a 2-1 victory.

On the front nine, Berg won two holes, Nos. 2 and 5 with par, birdie but Gardiner grew a 3-up lead with wins on Nos. 3 (bogey), 4 (par), 6 (birdie), 8 (par) and 9 (par).

After that, the match settled down when the golfers halved four of the next five holes. Gardiner got the only win, a nice birdie on No. 12 to go 4-up. Berg wasn’t done, however. He stormed back with three straight wins, on two pars and a birdie, to slice the lead to one. Both men parred No. 16 before Gardiner put the match away with a par win on No. 17.

White def. Novotny, 2-1

Michael White saved his best golf for last, winning two crucial holes late to stage a comeback against Larry Novotny.

Both golfers won three holes on the front nine – Novotny with pars on Nos. 4, 5 and 8 and White with a par on No. 2 and eagle on No. 6 and a birdie on No. 7.

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Novotny built a lead on the back nine, winning Nos. 10, 12 and 13. White managed to win just one hole, a par on No. 11 and trailed by two with just four holes to go. After swapping pars on No. 14, White made his move, winning No. 16 with birdie and No. 17 with par for a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

M. Herzog def. Passolt, 2-1

It was a steely-eyed battle between two longtime Resorters veterans and Mike Hezog found just enough magic to defeat last year’s runner-up, Pete Passolt through a grueling 17 holes.

Passolt surged ahead first, winning Nos. 4 and 7 with par, birdie to go 2-up. Herzog quickly bounced back with a par win on the 8th hole and matched Passolt’s par on No. 9 to stick within one at the turn.

Herzog deadlocked the match with a clutch par on No. 10 and then took his first lead of the day with a par on No. 13. He followed it up with a par win on No. 14 to go 2-up. Passolt battled back, taking the 15th hole with a birdie to draw within one. Both golfers parred 16 and Herzog’s bogey was good enough to win No. 17 and the match.

Roach def. Dilley, 4-3

Bob Roach amped up his game on the back nine, winning four of the first five holes to upend Dave Dilley, 4-3.

Dilley took No. 1 with a birdie but Roach drew even on No. 3 with a par. Dilley regained the lead with a birdie on No. 6 only to drop the next hole when Roach birdied the par-3 Minnesota Green. Roach dropped in a par on the 9th hole to take his first lead at the turn.

The back nine belonged to Roach. He won Nos. 10, 11, 13 and 14, going birdie, par, par, birdie to close out the match.

Knutson def. Monks, 6-5

A steamroller named Mark Knutson didn’t waste much time against Richard Monks.

Monks won the first hole with par but Knutson took the next five holes, highlighted by a birdie on No. 2 followed by two pars, a bogey and another birdie. Trailing by four, Monks tried to mount a comeback and won No. 7 with par, but Knutson was relentless, taking Nos. 8, 9 and 10 with a par and two more birdies to go 6-up.

Both golfers parred the next three holes, making Knutson a 6-5 winner.

Vanyo def. B. Freeman, 1-up

Defending champion Rick Vanyo overcame an early four-hole deficit against Bill Freeman to keep his chances of a repeat alive.

Things started very well for Freeman. After matching Vanyo’s pars on the first three holes, Freeman struck for four straight wins, with a bogey, two birdies and a par.

Vanyo won his first hole on No. 8 and tied Freeman’s par on the 9th hole, but trailed by three at the turn.

The lead didn’t change until No. 13 when Vanyo made par and drew to within two. He got even closer with a par win on No. 14. Freeman matched Vanyo’s bogey on No. 15 and his par on the next hole to cling to a 1-up advantage.

Vanyo tied the match with a birdie on the par-3 17th and completed his comeback with a par win on the 18th hole for a 1-up victory.

M. Johnson def. Adams, 2-1

Mike Johnson held a 1-up lead at the turn and hung tough to pull out a 2-1 win against David Adams.

Adams won two of the first three holes, Nos. 1 and 3 with pars, while Johnson tallied his first win on No. 4 with par. Johnson tied the match with a birdie on No. 7 and took his first lead with a bogey on the 9th hole.

Johnson won No. 11 with birdie but Adams answered with a par win on the next hole.

After matching pars on Nos. 13, 14 and 15, Johnson maintained a slim 1-up lead and gutted it out for a 2-1 victory.

Lindberg def. Cattoor, 7-6

Mark Lindberg, a two-time champion in the Resorters Men’s Division, had a quick day on the course Tuesday against Justin Cattoor. It was all over after 12 holes.

Lindberg won All but three holes on the front nine, highlighted by birdies on Nos. 1, 6 and 8. Cattoor won No. 5 with a birdie but it was not nearly enough. Lindberg kept the pressure on by taking Nos. 11 and 12 with two more birdies to coast to a 7-6 win.

On the day, Lindberg was 4-under par after 12 holes.

Pokorney def. Howard, 1-up

Mark Pokorney withstood a late rally by Curt Howard to win an 18-hole white-knuckler.

Pokorney won three holes on the front nine, Nos. 4, 6 and 8, going birdie, par, birdie while Howard won the first hole with a par.

Down by two at the turn, Howard turned his game around, nailing three consecutive birdies on Nos. 10, 11 and 12 to vault into the lead. Pokorney tied it with a par win on No. 14 but Howard fought back with a birdie on the next hole to regain the lead. Pokorney tied it again with a par win on No. 16. After both men swapped pars on No. 17, Pokorney finally put the match away with a par win on the final hole.

Montplaisir def. Tax, 8-6

It just wasn’t Steve Tax’s day. Larry Montplaisir won six of the first nine holes, highlighted by a birdie on No. 8, while Tax didn’t win a hole until No. 12, a par. It was too little too late, however, as Montplaisir put the match away with a par win on the next hole.

Frie def. Hagen, 2-up

Mark Frie, the division’s 2015 runner-up, won three holes on the front and two holes on the back and it was good enough for a hard-fought 2-1 win over Al Hagen.

Frie’s wins came on Nos. 2, 3, 5, 12 and 18 while Hagen took Nos. 4, 6 and 16.

Frie had three birdies on the day and Hagen didn’t have any.

Frieburg def. Johnson, 4-3

Rick Frieburg built a strong lead on the front nine and didn’t look back against Tom Johnson.

Freiburg’s wins in the early going all came on pars and happened on Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7. Trailing by five, Johnson notched his first win on No. 9, a par, and trailed by four at the turn.

Johnson mounted a mini-comeback, taking Nos. 10 and 11 to draw within two, but Frieburg hung tough, winning No. 12 with a birdie to go 3-up. Johnson battled back with a par on the next hole, but Frieburg again answered with a birdie win on No. 14 to go up by three again. Frieburg ended up winning the match, 4-3.

Wanous def. Marriott, 2-up

It took 18 holes for Mark Wanous to put away Scott Marriott.

Marriott struck first with a par win on No. 3 but Wanous stole the lead with wins on the next two holes, going birdie par. Both golfers halved the next four holes, leaving Wanous up by one at the turn.

Wanous won Nos. 10 and 11 with birdie, par to go 3-up. Marriott stormed back with a birdie on the next hole only to lose his momentum when Wanous took No. 13 with par. Marriott won the next hole with par and took No. 16 with par to slice the lead to one. Both golders parred No. 17 and Wanous sealed the victory with a par win on the final hole.

WEDNESDAY MEN’S SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP PAIRINGS - 1ST TEE
8:48 a.m. - JT Johnson vs. Tom Abrahamson; Chris Haugen vs. John Gardiner
8:57 - Michael White vs. Mike Herzog; Bob Roach vs. Mark Knutson
9:06 - Rick Vanyo vs. Mike Johnson; Mark Lindberg vs. Mark Pokorney
9:15 - Larry Montplaisir vs. Mark Frie; Richard Frieburg vs. Mark Wanous

Related Topics: ALEXANDRIAGOLF
Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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