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Resorters golf: Jon Empanger wins 19-hole thriller over Steve Herzog

Chaska golfer has now won Resorters titles across three different divisions.

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Steve Herzog, left, and Jon Empanger shake hands after their 19-hole thriller Saturday in the Men’s Masters Division. Empanger won the match.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — The Jon Empanger/Steve Herzog duel for the Men’s Masters crown was match play at its finest – and closest.

The match was tied for 15 of the 18 holes in regulation, so extra holes seemed inevitable and that’s what happened.

On the first extra hole, both golfers were on the green in two. Empanger, of Chaska, was about 10 feet away while Herzog, from Alexandria, was looking at a 12-foot birdie try. Herzog missed the putt, leaving Empanger an opening.

The former Resorters champion took advantage, rolling his putt toward the cup where it hung on the lip for a fraction of a second before going in to give Empanger a hard-fought victory.

Echo Press records kept of all the winners across each division from prior Resorters Tournaments have this as Empanger’s ninth title across multiple divisions, but Empanger indicated during the awards ceremony on Saturday that this was No. 8. It’s a lot either way, and Empanger got the job done in the Masters Division all week by winning 8-7, and two 5-4 matches leading into his tight battle with Herzog.

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“It took a little bit for it to drop,” Empanger said of his winning putt. “I was putting really good today. It saved me.”

Empanger wasn’t only fighting a tough opponent in Herzog, but has also been battling some back pain this summer that started in his hip. He hopes he won’t have to deal with the injury come October because he’s having his hip replaced.

When asked how this year’s victory compares to his past titles, Empanger said, “This was a good one to win. My game hasn’t been as sharp the last couple of years.”

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Jon Empanger gets out of a sand trap in his match against Steve Herzog in the Men’s Masters final Saturday. Empanger has now won trophies in three divisions – Men’s Executive, Men’s Seniors and Men’s Masters.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

The match was a tight one from the start. They both shot nothing but pars through the first six holes until Herzog grabbed the first lead with a par win on the No. 7 Minnesota green. Empanger came right back with a par win on No. 8 and both parred the 9th hole to make it all even on the front.

The match bounced back and forth after that. Empaner took No. 11 with par to take his first lead but Herzog erased it with a par win on No. 12. Empanger jumped back into the lead with a par on No. 13 only to lose the next hole to Herzog’s birdie.

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Steve Herzog chips onto the green in his Men’s Masters Championship final Saturday against Jon Empanger. In a 19-hole duel, Empanger escaped with the victory.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

They halved the next four holes to set up the overtime dramatics that gave Empanger the championship.

Echo Press records have Empanger winning five Men’s Executive titles (1993, 1997, 2004, 2007, 2008), three Men’s Seniors championships (2009, 2010, 2011) and now this Men’s Masters win.

Will Empanger be back to defend his title next summer?

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“One hundred percent yes,” he said. “If I’m alive, I’ll be there.”

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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