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Resorters Golf: Five champs roll on in Senior Men’s

Both co-medalists and all but one former champion in the Resorters Senior Men's Division survived the opening round of match play Tuesday. The winners hoping for a repeat include defending champion Chris Haugen (also a co-medalist) and former cha...

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Larry Novotny of Alexandria stirs up some sand out of the bunker by the No. 5 green Tuesday in his Senior Men's Championship match against Alexandria's Brian Eidsvold. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)

Both co-medalists and all but one former champion in the Resorters Senior Men’s Division survived the opening round of match play Tuesday.

The winners hoping for a repeat include defending champion Chris Haugen (also a co-medalist) and former champs A.J. Kluver, Steve Herzog, Jon Empanger and Jeff Pederson. Co-medalist Dennis McGuire also won.

But yesterday marked the end of the road for Greg Mattson of Becker, who lost a hard-fought match against Rick Vanyo of Circle Pines.

The first round matches held plenty of action – a few blowouts but also four matches that weren’t decided until at least the 17th hole. Here’s a recap:

Haugen def. Gustafson, 8-6

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Early jitters for the defending champ? Not a chance.

Haugen wasted little time building a lead against Patrick Gustafson. He started the match with four straight pars and a birdie. Gustafson ran into trouble early, settling for bogeys on Nos. 1, 3 and 5, along with a double-bogey on No. 4, which gave Haugen a four-hole lead.

Haugen kept the pressure on by winning No. 6 with par and pulling off a birdie on the par-3 7th to go 6-up.

Both golfers swapped pars and double-bogeys on the next two holes before Haugen notched another birdie on No. 10 to go 7-up. After bogeys on No. 11, Haugen put the match away with another birdie – his fourth of the day – to win it, 8-6.

  1. Herzog def. Stockmoe, 6-5

For Alexandria’s Scott Stockmoe, the first hole was his lone highlight. He carded a par to go 1-up against Mike Herzog of Detroit Lakes.
After that, it was all Herzog. Herzog won No. 2 with a par to quickly tie the match and then reeled off six wins on the next eight holes to take a commanding 5-up lead at the turn.

Both golfers tied No. 10 with par but Herzog won the next hole with par and coasted to a 6-5 victory.

Rockers def. Abrahamson, 6-4

Pete Rockers of Minneapolis was relentless against Tom Abrahamson of Wayzata. He only lost one hole.

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On the front nine, Rockers won No. 1 with par, No. 4 with bogey, No. 6 with par and No. 7 with par to take a commanding four-hole lead.

Abrahamson finally broke through with a par on No. 8 but his double-bogey on the next hole put Rockers 4-up at the turn.

Rockers also won No. 10 with bogey and his birdie on No. 12 gave him a six-hole lead en route to a 6-4 victory.

Bowen def. Wittenburg, 2-1

Greg Bowen knows how to battle back. He was behind four times in his match against Alexandria’s Carl Wittenburg, but he refused to give in.

Wittenburg took the first lead with a par on No. 2, but Bowen tied it with a par on No. 4. WIttenburg answered with par wins on Nos. 4 and 5 to go 2-up, but Bowen birdied No. 7, and his par on the next hole evened the match.

Wittenburg moved ahead again with a par on No. 11. Bowen responded with a birdie on the par-5 12th to square the match but Wittenburg jumped into the lead for the fourth time with a par on No. 13.

Both golfers parred No. 14 and then Bowen caught fire, winning No. 15, 16 and 17 with clutch pars to steal a 2-1 victory.

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JT Johnson def. Hartmann, 7-5

JT Johnson of Eden Prairie took advantage of a double-bogey start by Mike Hartmann of Red Wing on the first two holes to go 2-up.

Johnson added another win on No. 4 with par but Hartmann’s par on No. 6 made it close.

After that, it was all Johnson. He took Nos. 7 and 8 with pars and held a four-hole lead at the turn.

Johnson didn’t slow down on the back nine, winning No. 10 with birdie and No. 11 with par to go 6-up. After swapping pars on No. 12, Johnson iced the match with a par win on 13.

  1. Lehman def. White, 2-1

In a tightly played match where no golfer won two or more holes in a row until the very end, Mike Lehman of Scottsdale, Ariz., outlasted Mike White of Maple Grove.
White won one hole on the front nine, a par on No. 2, while Lehman also won one, a par on No. 8.

Lehman inched into the lead with a par on No. 10 but White closed the gap with a birdie on No. 12. Lehman went out front again with a par on No. 13 but White drew even with a birdie win on No. 15.

Dead even going into 16, Lehman won the next two holes with clutch pars to notch a 2-1 victory.

Kluver def. Bigger, 5-4

In a battle of Alexandrians, AJ Kluver played a nearly flawless round against Jeff Bigger.

Kluver shot a 37 on the front, highlighted by a birdie win on the first hole. Kluver also won Nos. 3, 4, 7 and 8 to go 5-up at the turn. His only missteps were a couple of harmless bogeys on No. 5 and 9 that Bigger couldn’t capitalize on.

After halving No. 10 with par, Kluver birdied No. 11 to go 6-up. Bigger struck for a birdie on No. 12 but it was too little, too late. Kluver matched Bigger’s bogey on No. 13 and his par on No. 14 to seal a 5-4 win.

Gardiner def. Arnold, 6-4

It just wasn’t Jim Arnold’s day. The division’s three-time runner-up managed only one birdie, beating John Gardiner’s par on No. 8, but it proved to be the only hole he won.

Gardiner, meanwhile, put in a solid round – he was 1-over on the front nine and shot nothing but pars on the five holes he played on the back before the match ended.

Gardiner won seven holes – Nos. 2, 3, 7, 9, 12, 13 and 14 with a birdie and six pars – to coast to a 6-4 win.

McGuire def. Woodhull, 5-4

Dennis McGuire of St. Paul got off to a blistering start against Duncan Woodhull of Minnetonka and never looked back.

McGuire won the first three holes with pars and added a bogey win on No. 5 to go 4-up, a lead he held at the turn.

Woodhull notched his only win of the day, a nice birdie on No. 10, but McGuire maintained his momentum with a par win on No. 11 and a birdie win on No. 12 to go 5-up. Both golfers parred the next two holes to end the match after 14.

Vanyo def. Mattson, 3-2

In order to beat Greg Mattson, the division’s 2016 champion, Rick Vanyo of Circle Pines had to keep his mistakes to a minimum. He did just that.

After a shaky start with a double-bogey loss on the first hole and a bogey tie on No. 2, Vanyo won four holes on the front – No. 3 with par, No. 5 with birdie, No. 8 with par and No. 9 with par. Mattson, meanwhile, won two holes – that par win on No. 1 and a par win on No. 7 – and trailed by two at the turn.

Mattson threatened to get right back into the match with a par win on No. 10, but Vanyo kept his cool, winning the next three holes with a birdie and two pars to go 4-up.

After double-bogeys on No. 14, Mattson rallied for a birdie win on No. 15 but the comeback was short-lived. Vanyo matched Mattson’s par on No. 16 to nail down a 3-2 win.

Yoder def. Davis, 2-1

In a roller-coaster match that turned into a grinder, Randy Yoder of Chattanooga, Tenn., held on to defeat Matt Davis of Woodbury.

Both golfers won three holes on the front; Yoder with par wins on Nos. 3, 7 and 8 and Davis with a bogey and two pars on Nos. 2, 4 and 9.

After swapping pars on No. 10, Yoder pulled out front by winning No. 11 with birdie and No. 12 with par to go 2-up.
After that, the match was as close as it could get. Each golfer shot nothing but pars on the next five holes, which sealed a 2-1 win for Yoder.

  1. Herzog def. Olson, 5-4

Steve Herzog put together five wins on the front nine to put Chris Olson in a deficit he couldn’t escape from. Herzog’s wins came on Nos. 2, 4, 5, 8 and 9, thanks to four pars followed by a birdie.
Herzog added another win on No. 10 via a birdie. After halving the next two holes with pars, Olson struck for his lone win of the match, a par on No. 13 but he could only tie Herzog’s par on No. 14, which ended the round.

Empanger def. Leland, 3-2

Just when Bruce Leland of Alexandria seemed to gain momentum against Jon Empanger of Alexandria with a par win on No. 5 to tie the match, he lost his ball – and the hole – on No. 6.

Leland didn’t win a hole after that.

But give Empanger credit too. After No. 5, he shot nine pars and two birdies, winning Nos. 9, 10 and 16 to close the door on Leland, 3-2.

  1. Pederson def. B. Freeman, 1-up.

In the division’s closest match of the day, Jeff Pederson of Haymarket, Va., overcame an early deficit and a late charge from Alexandria’s Bill Freeman to hang on to a 1-up win.
Freeman won the first two holes with pars but Pederson rallied with par wins on Nos. 4 and 5 to tie the match.

Undaunted, Freeman won the next two holes with pars but Pederson again came back by winning No. 8 with par and trailed by one at the turn.

Pederson vaulted into the lead after taking Nos. 10 and 11 with a par and a birdie.

At that point, the match tightened with both golfers shooting nothing but pars on the next three holes.

Freeman finally broke the ice with two more par wins on Nos. 15 and 16 to regain the lead.

Pederson settled down, however, and made par on the next two holes while Freeman ran into bogey trouble.

Lindberg def. Marriott, 4-2

Mark Lindberg of Coppell, Texas, showed some of the skills that earned him the Resorters Regular Men’s trophies in 2002 and 2003.

Playing against Scott Marriott of Alexandria, Lindberg was 3-under par when the match ended in his favor after 16 holes.

Lindberg won four holes on the front – Nos. 3, 4, 7 and 8 with birdie, par, par, birdie. Marriott won No. 9 with par but trailed by three at the turn.

Lindberg didn’t lose steam on the back, taking Nos. 10 and 11 with birdies to 5-up. Marriott won No. 14 with par and 15 with birdie but Lindberg’s birdie on No. 16 put the match away.

Novotny def. Eidsvold, 6-4

In another battle of Alexandrians, Larry Novotny put together a strong finish to upend Brian Eidsvold, 6-4.

The match was very close through the first five holes. Novotny won Nos. 2 and 4 with pars while Eidsvold won Nos. 3 and 5 with a bogey and a par.

But Eidsvold never won a hole after that. Novotny put together wins on Nos. 6, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 14 with four pars and two birdies, which gave him an easy 6-4 win.

WEDNESDAY PAIRINGS - 1ST TEE

8:48 a.m. - Chris Haugen vs. Mike Herzog; Pete Rockers vs. Greg Bowen.

8:57 a.m. - JT Johnson vs. Mike Lehman; AJ Kluver vs. John Gardiner

9:06 a.m. - Dennis McGuire vs. Rick Vanyo; Randy Yoder vs. Steve Herzog

9:15 a.m. - Jon Empanger vs. Jeff Pederson; Mark Lindberg vs. Larry Novotny

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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