WAYZATA, Minn. (May 22, 2012) -- Underdogs are almost always well advised to get out in front as quickly as possible. Coming from behind is for the favorites.
The MGA team did precisely what it needed to do on Monday at Woodhill Country Club in the 36th MGA/PGA Cup Matches, winning 10 and tying another of the first 12 matches that were decided. For the PGA, which has won a lot more of these annual contests than it has lost, there was no coming back from the hole it dug for itself, and the result was a 24-16 victory for the state's best amateurs.
Adam Dooley and Gretchen Huhnerkoch served as the vanguard for the MGA. Playing in the first foursome off the 10th tee, Dooley toured the 16 holes he needed to play in 2 under par, which enabled the former MGA Player of the Year to beat Ben Meyers (the 2011 Minnesota PGA Assistants Player of the Year) 3&2.
The other amateur in that first group of the back side, Dylan Gergen, didn't start quite so quickly. As a matter of fact, he bogeyed four of his first five holes. But he played 3 under the rest of the way in a 3&2 victory over Chris Bailey.
In the MGA/PGA format, there is a Four-Ball match going on at the same time as the two singles matches in each group, and the Dooley/Gergen pairing won that, too, 5&4 over Meyers and Bailey.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the course, in the first group off No. 1, Gretchen Huhnerkoch, played the front nine in 2 under. The Wichita State senior-to-be went on to claim another point for the MGA by virtue of a 3&2 victory over Kathy Swanson. The other singles match in the group went to the PGA, as Lori Money defeated the reigning State Publinx Match Play champion, Kristen Wagner, 2&1, but Huhnerkoch and Wagner won the Four-Ball match 2 up.
The MGA has traditionally done very well in the women's matches, and Leigh Klasse and Claudia Pilot have been responsible for a lot of that success. Monday was no exception. They earned three points -- one each for their two singles victories, and another point for a tie in Four-Ball (Four-Ball matches are worth two points, singles one). Klasse defeated Angie Ause 3&1; Pilot beat Jody Christensen 2&1; and the winners of a combined 11 MGA Women's Player of the Year awards (Pilot seven, Klasse four) halved their better-ball match with Ause and Christensen.
Out of the eight possible points available to the women, the MGA got six.
The MGA wasn't doing too badly in the men's matches, either. In the foursome that followed Dooley and Gergen, McCabe Buege beat Luke Benoit 3&2, and Tim Hamm edged Scott McDonald, while at the same time Buege and Hamm were constructing a 3&2 Four-Ball victory.
Then came Jesse Larson, who beat Shannon O'Neill 5&4 and combined with Blake Onkka for a 1-up victory over O'Neill and Tim Brovold.
By then, it really didn't matter that the PGA had the advantage in the majority of the later-starting contests.
Getting 60 percent of the total number of points made this the third most decisive victory by the MGA, which claimed its most one-sided victory 24.5 to 15.5 (61.25 percent of the possible points) in 1989. Next was 29-19 (60.4 percent of the points) in 1995, the first year of a 12-year period when a total of 48 points were available.
Of course, the amateurs are in no position to gloat. The pros have won by margins as wide as 35.5 to 4.5 (1990), 33 to 7 (1992), 36 to 12 (1999), and Monday's loss notwithstanding, they still lead the series 26-8-2.
View results for Minnesota MGA-PGA Cup Matches Golf Tournament