Park Rapids’ Trent Wilcox led wire-to-wire to capture the prestigious 98th annual Minnesota Golf Association’s Senior Amateur Championship at Stillwater’s StoneRidge Golf Club on Thursday, Sept. 19.
The 55-year-old member of Headwaters Golf Club led from the start by opening with a 2-under 70 during the first 18 holes on Sept. 17. That gave Wilcox a one-shot lead over Jerry Rose of Alexandria Golf Club and Leif Carlson of Valleywood Golf Course and a two-shot advantage over Dave Haslerud of Southview Country Club. The 70 by Wilcox and the 71s by Rose and Carlson would prove to be the only rounds under par the entire tournament.
Wilcox carded birdies on the par-3 No. 14 hole and the par-4 No. 18 hole to offset a bogey on the par-5 No. 11 hole to open with a 35 on the back side. Wilcox sank a 138-foot birdie putt to close out his round on the back side. On the front side, Wilcox carded another 35 with birdies on the par-5 No. 2 hole and the par-4 No. 6 hole to offset a bogey on the par-4 No. 3 hole.
During the second round on Sept. 18, Wilcox entered the clubhouse in the lead as play was suspended because of darkness following a 90-minute weather delay at the start of the day. The Park Rapids golfer played the first 12 holes in 3-under par, starting with back-to-back birdies on the par-4 No. 1 hole and the No. 2 hole. Those two holes, along with a bogey on the par-4 No. 6 hole, led to a 35 on the front side. On the back side, Wilcox made a 4-foot putt for an eagle on No. 11 hole to sit at 5-under for the tournament. A double-bogey on the par-4 No. 12 and bogeys on the No. 14 and par-4 No. 15 resulted in a 38 and a 1-over 73 for a two-day total of 143.
Several golfers began Thursday’s final round by finishing up the second round of play as the field of 144 was trimmed to 48. Despite bogeying three of his final six holes, Haslerud pulled into a tie for second place with a 74 to join Tom Whaley of Minneapolis Golf Club three shots behind Wilcox at 146.
This became a two-golfer competition when Haslerud opened the final round with an even-par 36 to close the gap to two shots after Wilcox’s 37. Whaley opened with a 39 to fall five shots back.
Haslerud began the final round with back-to-back birdies to cut the deficit to one stroke as Wilcox opened with three pars. A birdie on No. 4 pushed Wilcox’s lead to two strokes before Haslerud pulled even with a pair of pars as Wilcox carded back-to-back bogeys on the par-4 No. 5 hole and No. 6. Wilcox regained the lead as Haslerud carded back-to-back bogeys on No. 7 and No. 8.
Three-putt bogeys on the par-4 No. 10 and No. 12 holes evened the match. After both golfers birdied the par-4 No. 13 hole and carded pars on No. 14, Wilcox took control of the match by sinking a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 15. Haslerud bogeyed that hole to fall two shots out with three holes to play.
Following a pair of bogeys on the par-3 No. 16 hole, Haslerud rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-5 No. 17 hole before Wilcox answered with a tap-in birdie to carry a two-shot lead into the final hole.
Wilcox sealed the win with a routine two-putt for par on No. 18 to hold off the 2017 champion with an even-par 36 on the back side and a 1-over 73. Haslerud, who finished as the runner-up for the third time in the last six years, also carded a 36 on the back side for an even-par 72 on the day.
Whaley took third at 222 and Rose was fourth at 223. Carlson and Bob Neuberger of Burl Oaks Country Club tied for fifth at 224 while defending champion Jim Lehman of Windsong Farm finished seventh at 226.
Taylor takes eighth
Doug Taylor of Headwaters Country Club finished eighth in the Masters Division of the 98th MGA Senior Amateur Championship, which was played at StoneRidge Golf Club on Sept. 17-18.
Taylor, who won the MGA Senior Amateur Championship Masters Division title last year at Bemidji Town & Country Club, was tied for fourth place after the first 18 holes with a 6-over 78. Taylor carded one birdie, six pars and a triple-bogey for a 38 on the front side and followed with a birdie, four pars, three bogeys and a double-bogey for a 40 on the back side. Carlson, who trailed Taylor by two shots as the runner-up last year, opened with a 71 for a four-shot lead.
Carlson extended his lead during the final round by carding a 77 for a two-day total of 148. Darrell Retka of Valleywood Golf Club and James Ryan of Hazeltine National Golf Club tied for second with 156s while Rick Ehrmanntraut of Southview Country Club was fourth with a 157 and Bob Rolston of Minikahda Club was fifth with a 159. Skip Schultz of University Golf Club and Steve Whittaker of Pebble Creek Golf Club tied for sixth with 160s.
Taylor followed with a 161 after carding an 83 during the final round. Five bogeys and four pars led to a 41 on the front side while two birdies, a par, four bogeys and two double-bogeys resulted in a 42 on the back side.