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Resorters golf: Jim Arnold aims for first title after coming so close

Three former champs standing in his way.

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Jim Arnold watches a tee shot during Masters Division match play at the Resorters Tournament on Aug. 3, 2022. Arnold, who has three runner-up finishes in the Senior Division, is knocking on the door of a title again this year with 3-2 and 5-4 wins through the first two rounds. He will face six-time Resorters champion Steve Herzog on Friday in the semifinals.
By Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — Jim Arnold of Plymouth has been a regular contender at the Resorters in different divisions over the years, and he is one step closer to giving himself another chance at a title.

Arnold has finished second in the Senior Division three times. Once to Steve Herzog in 2012, and then to Jeff Pederson in 2014 and to Greg Mattson in 2016.

Arnold is one win away from making it back to the finals on Saturday, this time in the Masters Division. If he is going to get a championship, it will come against someone who has the experience of hoisting that trophy.

Read more Resorters golf coverage from the Echo Press

Tom Ryan, last year’s winner in this division, won a 4-3 match on Thursday to set up a matchup with eight-time Resorters champion Jon Empanger on Friday. Waiting for Arnold at the first tee in the semifinals will be Herzog, a winner of six championships.

Here is a look at how all four took care of business in the quarterfinals.

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Steve Herzog def. Mattson in 19 holes

Two former champs locked up in a battle on Thursday before Herzog put away Greg Mattson in the first playoff hole.

It took rallying on the back nine. Mattson did not give an inch on the front, shooting 37 and leading by two after par wins on 3 and 8.

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Steve Herzog rolls his putt toward the cup during his win in 19 holes over Greg Mattson in the Masters Division on Aug. 4, 2022 at the Resorters Tournament.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Both players parred holes 10 and 11 before Herzog struck for his first birdie of the day at the par-five 12th to cut his deficit to one.

Mattson forced Herzog to make birdie to steal a hole through much of the round. He got another one on 15 to pull even, and then a rare bogey for Mattson allowed Herzog to grab his first lead with a par win at 16.

That’s how things went to the 18th hole. Mattson needed a win, and he got it with a par when Herzog opened the door with a bogey. But Herzog bounced back, winning on the 19th hole to keep his title hopes alive.

Arnold def. Leland, 5-4

Arnold got off to a solid start with three straight pars on the front against Bruce Leland. That was enough to grab a 2-up advantage, and it’s a lead he never did relinquish.

Leland got a win back with par on No. 4, but Arnold stepped on the gas from there. He won 5 with a par and then 8 and 9 with a bogey and par, respectively.

Leland tried to get back in the match with a par win on No. 10, but Arnold again answered right back. His par on 11 and birdie wins at 12 and 14 helped him put the match away.

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Ryan def. Tessmer, 4-3

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Tom Ryan tees off during his 4-3 win over Steve Tessmer in the quarterfinals of the Masters Division on Aug. 4, 2022 at the Resorters.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

The defending champ in this division, Tom Ryan, shot a 37 on the front nine in his match against Steve Tessmer on Thursday. That helped him build a 4-up lead by the turn that he never came close to relinquishing.

Ryan got birdie wins at Nos. 1 and 6 around par wins at 3 and 9. He added another par win on hole 11 before Tessmer took his first of the day with a par at 12.

It was too little, too late. Ryan did not give Tessmer an inch the rest of the way as his pars on the next three holes halved 13, 14 and 15 between the two as Ryan came one step closer to getting a chance at a second straight title.

Empanger def. Johnson, 5-4

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Jon Empanger chips onto the green during his 5-4 win over Randy Johnson during match play in the Masters Division at the Resorters Tournament on Aug. 4, 2022.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Chaska’s Jon Empanger has been on his game through two rounds of match play.

He won an 8-7 contest on Wednesday and came right back with a 5-4 win over Randy Johnson on Thursday.

Empanger took control from the start, shooting even-par 36 on the front nine and getting wins at holes 2-5 and another with birdie on 7.

Johnson’s wins came at Nos. 8 and 12, but the damage had already been done. Empanger continued to play well on the back nine where he took 11 with a par, and then finished off the win with a birdie on the par-five 14th.

MASTERS DIVISION SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS ON FRIDAY -- FIRST TEE BOX
12:10 p.m. - Steve Herzog vs. Jim Arnold; Tom Ryan vs. Jon Empanger

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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