From the Minnesota Golf Association
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (July 23, 2014) – Charles Sawyer was the last player to win the Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship on his home course when he accomplished the feat in 1948 at Interlachen Country Club.
When Jesse Bull’s four-foot birdie found the bottom of the cup Wednesday to clinch the 111th Amateur Championship, he became the first home-course champion at Golden Valley Golf and Country Club since George Wright in 1939.
Bull rolled in a birdie on the 18th hole to card a 2-under par 70 during the final round Wednesday to finish the championship at 4-under par 212, one stroke better than Erik Christopherson's 213.
He began the final round Wednesday in second place, two shots off the lead but was frustrated after the conclusion of his round Tuesday, finishing with three consecutive bogeys to shoot 1-over par 73.
“I tried to forget about yesterday,” he said. “I thought about it a little bit last night and it was just one of those things you couldn’t really put a finger on. I learned a couple of things from it but I was looking forward to a fresh start today.”
“Having that comeback mentality kind of put me in a forward mindset to be smartly aggressive, but patient at the same time,” Bull said. “I didn’t have to go crazy at pins and in the end I was a little fortunate that no one else lit it up today.”
Playing in the final group with Troy Johnson and Christopherson, all three players made birdie to open the round. Bull three-putted two par-5’s after reaching the green in two, with the first coming on the sixth hole, which he ended up making par.
“Those are usually hurtful—you gotta two-putt those,” he said. “That’s a part of the game that you need to have and would’ve been the difference if someone really got going today. Six was one that hurt, that is not a hard two-putt.”
Bull’s only potentially costly mistake of the round came on the seventh hole when his approach flew the green to the bunker behind. His third from the sand wouldn’t settle on the forward sloped green and he would two-putt for bogey.
His second three-putt came on the par-5 10th hole after he lagged his eagle putt to less than two feet. Bull’s birdie slipped past the hole and he tapped in for par.
“It was a one and a half foot putt,” Bull smirked after his round, “I hoped that wasn’t going to come back and haunt me.”
Bull had a fantastic up and down on the 14th to remain at 2-under for the championship after his tee shot clipped the trees along the 14th fairway. He lofted a wedge over the trap to the green but his ball rolled 8-feet past the pin. He rolled in a slick, left to right putt to save par and remain at 2-under.
“I made one good putt, really, on 15. The sidewinder on 14 from about eight feet was my second best putt of the day,” Bull said.
On the 15th, Bull put his approach to 15 feet and drained the putt for birdie to move into a tie for the lead at 3-under par for the tournament.
Bull rolled in pars on 16 and 17, and was handed a one-stroke lead after Christopherson made bogey on the 17th.
He left his approach short on the heavily sloped 18th green, but still in a good position to get up and down for birdie.
Christopherson reached the green in two, but his eagle putt moved right to left and stopped about two feet short of the hole, giving Bull an opportunity to win the tournament with a birdie.
Bull chipped up to four feet, keeping his ball below the hole and rolled in his birdie to win his first amateur title.
“It’s huge and it feels great,” Bull said of the victory, “I felt like I had it coming and at some point it was going to happen and it finally did. It feels great to close it out and there’s a brief ‘did it really happen?’ type of thing. That part of it feels fantastic.”
“Everyone played great—it was really solid golf and at the end of three days I was one ahead, which is a pretty tight margin,” Bull said.
Bull had been close a number of times in recent years, but failed to hoist a trophy. He had three top-10 finishes a year ago and 10 finishes inside the top 25 over the last six years.
“In a weird way I feel like the older you get, the more you can put it together. There are a lot better golfers here than me this week, but they didn’t do something,” Bull said. “At 39 it’s a little surprising to win your first [amateur championship] because I’ve played the least amount of golf than I have before. That part feels good—to have a family and still be able to get the ball around feels really good.”
Christopherson, Baker National Golf Club, began the day three shots off the lead, and with the birdie on the opening hole got to 2-under for the championship before falling back to 1-under with a bogey on the seventh.
With a birdie on the 11th and another on the 13th, Christopherson momentarily carried the lead until his bogey on the 17th. He reached the par-5 18th hole in two and had a good look at eagle but his putt stopped just short and he tapped in for birdie to finish in second at 3-under par 213.
“I tried to drive it better today and pick my spots where to be aggressive. I was a little squirrely off the tee yesterday,” Christopherson said after his round Wednesday. “Unfortunately, you always go back to the negatives when you lose by one, but I want my swing back on 7."
“On 17, I play a draw, and with the wind coming from the right there’s almost not a good play for my ball flight. I’m not disappointed with a bogey at all because it’s kind of a crap shoot with that pin,” he said. “I knew it would be tough today—I thought I had to shoot 68 or 69 and I shot 70. I really enjoyed the day playing with [Johnson] and [Bull] and it was a good, friendly competition.”
Jack Pexa, New Prague Golf Club, finished in a tie for third with Sammy Schmitz at 1-under par 215.
Pexa rolled in four birdies on the opening nine holes to briefly take a one-stroke lead before struggling on the final nine holes with four bogeys and two birdies.
Ben Greve, Minneapolis Golf Club, finished in fifth place at even par 216.
Troy Johnson, Rush Creek Golf Club, led after two rounds but was disqualified at the conclusion of his round for signing an incorrect scorecard.