STILLWATER, MN (September 21, 2016) -- Sinking a 15-footer for birdie on the final hole Wednesday at Oak Glen Golf Course, John Hawkinson lifted him and partner Rob Harris to a second consecutive round of 66 to win the 43rd Minnesota Golf Association Senior Four-Ball Championship.
Harris and Hawkinson’s Final birdie fended off a furious charge by the team of John Anderson and Bill Tadewald, who carded a final-round 62 Wednesday to come up one shot short at 133.
“This is pretty meaningful and I’m happy that I had a great partner,” Harris said after the win Wednesday. “These venues we get to play Monday through Friday is a special treat. I played my first state amateur in 1969 at [The Minikahda Club] and I walked on the first tee on a Monday afternoon after qualifying and I could not believe the privilege it was to be there.
“This is the first time I’ve ever won any hardware at an MGA event, so hopefully it’s going to springboard me towards many more in retirement.”
“This is my first big win—it was work but fun. And we didn’t get hurt,” Hawkinson added.
In an attempt to avoid inclement weather forecasted for Wednesday's final round, the field was cut to the top-24 and ties.
Following a bogey on the opening hole, Harris’ downhill putt from 25 feet at the par-4 fourth appeared to stop inches short of the cup, but kept trickling before falling over the edge for birdie to put the two at even par for the round.
“We had a bogey on the first hole today—I missed another putt that wasn’t more than two feet, but we had our share and I guess they all equal out,” Hawkinson said.
“The momentum kind of worked our way after we bogeyed the first hole. Then things fell into place in a strange kind of way,” Harris added.
By falling into place, Harris meant to say the ball was falling into the hole as the two would birdie three consecutive holes beginning at the sixth hole to get to 9-under for the championship.
Hawkinson rolled in his birdie chance from the fringe at the sixth before putting his approach inside of five feet at the seventh. Hawkinson would again roll in his birdie opportunity from the fringe at the par-5 eighth from 18 feet.
Reaching the par-5 11th in two, Hawkinson lipped his eagle putt, leaving a tap-in for birdie to get the two to 10-under. Harris’ tee shot at the 13th ended up in the 14th fairway before his 7-iron sent his second shot beyond the green. From 35 feet, Harris’ chip shot rattled off the flagstick and into the cup for birdie to move the pair to 11-under.
With Anderson and Tadewald already in at 133, Hawkinson put his approach 15 feet behind the flag on the final hole before his putt rolled in the center of the cup for the birdie and the win.
“I didn’t know how important it turned out to be. People started to form around us so I figured it was worth something,” Hawkinson said of his final putt. “I didn’t have a great read on it—I thought it went a little left to right and I thought I pushed it a little bit, but it stayed pretty straight. Typically if you can make a putt on the ninth or 18th hole, it usually ends up being a good thing.”
“On the putting green we looked at each other and said this opportunity doesn’t happen all the time, so why not us?” Harris said of the mindset prior to the final round Wednesday.
Defending champions Leif Carlson and Greg Murphy entered the final round Wednesday with a one-stroke advantage over the team of Robert Payne and Joseph Sicora as well as Harris and Hawkinson.
Carlson and Murphy would get to 11-under following a birdie by Carlson at the 13th, but the two would finish third at 134 following a final-round 134.
Payne and Sicora fired a 1-over par 73 during the final round Wednesday to finish tied for 14th at 139.
The duo of Gary Johnson and Pat Vincelli claimed the Masters Division Wednesday, shooting a two-day total of 134, which included a final-round 65, to beat the tandem of Tom Lindberg and John Wells by seven shots.
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