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Resorters golf: Leland, Johnson step up their game

Alexandria golfers win in dramatic fashion in Masters Division.

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Alexandria's Bruce Leland launches a tee shot down the fairway during his round on Aug. 3, 2022, at the 101st Resorters Tournament. Leland beat three-time Masters champion Dan Elton by a 2-1 final to secure a spot in Thursday's quarterfinals.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA —Five of the top eight seeds in the Masters Division are still standing after the opening round of match play on Wednesday afternoon.

That included top-seeded Steve Herzog, who rolled in an 8-7 final against 16th-seeded Michael Flesch. The tightest matches of the opening round came with 2018 Masters champion Randy Johnson storming back to beat Norty Blanchard in 19 holes, and Bruce Leland taking down three-time champ Dan Elton of Moorhead.

Here is a look at how all eight matches played out ahead of Thursday’s noon start for this division off the first tee box.

Steve Herzog def. Flesch, 8-7

Six-time Resorters champion Steve Herzog was as dominant from the start as a golfer can be in match play on Wednesday.

Read more Resorters golf coverage from the Echo Press

Herzog shot even par on the front, and that did the trick as he took all nine of the holes on a day when Flesch could not get his game going. Flesch did take hole 10 with a par, but it was Herzog’s round as he now moves on to face Gregg Mattson, the 2016 champion from the Senior Division, on Thursday.

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Mattson def. Paul Peterson, 2-1

Greg Mattson persevered through a tight match against Paul Peterson and won 2-1 after a par win at 16 moved him to 2-up.

Peterson led through eight with his par win at No. 5, but Mattson went on a run of three straight wins from there. He took 9 and 10 with pars before his birdie win at 11 moved him to 2-up. Peterson got it back to within one with a birdie of his own at 15, but he never could pull even.

Leland def. Elton, 2-1

Alexandria’s Bruce Leland would need to be on his game to beat three-time Masters champ Dan Elton, and he certainly was on the back nine on Wednesday.

Leland shot 1-under par after making the turn, with his birdie win coming at the par-five 12th hole. He added par wins at Nos. 10, 15 and 17, and that helped him withstand a birdie win for Elton at 16.

It was a tale of two nines for Leland. He shot a 5-over 41 on the front, but Elton could not build enough of a cushion during that stretch. Elton shot 39 and held a 1-up advantage at the turn.

Arnold def. McNamara, 3-2

Jim Arnold never trailed in his 3-2 win over Todd McNamara.

Arnold was up four after a bogey win at No. 7. McNamara did bounce back as he won holes 8, 9 and 10 to climb to within one again, but he never could get even.

Arnold won holes 11 and 12 with par before a par win for McNamara on 13. Arnold’s wins at 15 and 16 secured the match.

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Ryan def. Siddy, 6-5

Defending champion Tom Ryan shot 3-over on the front nine and took a 4-up advantage into the turn against Steve Siddy.

Ryan quickly made it a 6-up lead with par wins at 10 and 11. That was plenty as the two halved the next couple holes to secure Ryan’s spot in the quarterfinals.

Tessmer def. Sauer, 3-2

Steve Tessmer kept Ray Sauer at arm’s length most of the morning by building a 3-up cushion after par wins on 1, 3 and 4. The two exchanged wins through the rest of the front as Tessmer’s lead still sat at 3-up at the turn.

Sauer hung around in the match. He got a birdie win at No. 14, but Tessmer put the match away with a par win on the 16th hole.

Empanger def. Vipond, 8-7

Jon Empanger of Chaska has won eight Resorters titles across the Senior and Executive Divisions over his many years at the Resorters. He looked like he was hungry to get a ninth overall title and first in the Masters Division on Wednesday.

Empanger beat Thomas Vipond in an 8-7 match and shot a 1-over 37 on the front nine in doing so. He kept cruising in their limited time playing the back. Empanger got a birdie win at 10 and a par win at 11 to put things away.

Randy Johnson def. Blanchard, 19 holes

Alexandria’s Randy Johnson found himself down three holes at the turn against Alexandria native Norty Blanchard on Wednesday, but he battled back and won in the first playoff hole.

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Alexandria's Randy Johnson watches his tee shot during his win over Norty Blanchard in the Masters Division on Aug. 3, 2022 at the Resorters. Johnson rallied from a three-hole deficit after the turn to win in 19 holes.<br/>
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Johnson shot an 8-over 44 on the front nine. He steadied things down the stretch and got back in the match with par wins at 10 and 13 around a birdie win at hole 11.

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That made things all square before Blanchard’s birdie win at 15 gave him the lead back. It did not last long. Johnson responded with a par win at 16.

Johnson and Blanchard halved the next two holes with a bogey and a par before Johnson got the win on the 19th hole.

MASTERS DIVISION QUARTERFINAL THURSDAY PAIRINGS - FIRST HOLE
12 p.m. - Steve Herzog vs. Greg Mattson; Bruce Leland vs. Jim Arnold
12:09 - Tom Ryan vs. Steve Tessmer; Jon Empanger vs. Randy Johnson

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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