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Once again, it's Burleson vs. Peterson at Minnesota Mid-Am
Trent Peterson (left) and Justin Burleson (MGA photo)
Trent Peterson (left) and Justin Burleson (MGA photo)

By Nick Hunter

PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (Oct. 4, 2018) – Over the past two seasons, two of the state’s strongest golfers have met head-to-head on more than one occasion. Aside from trading club championships with one another, Trent Peterson downed Justin Burleson to win the 2017 Minnesota Golf Association Mid-Players’ Championship at St. Cloud Country Club.

Burleson met Peterson in the semifinals of the MGA Players’ Championship weeks later and exacted revenge by bouncing Peterson from the tournament. Burleson claimed his first victory of the 2018 season at the MGA Mid-Players in June at Brackett’s Crossing, defeating Peterson, 2 and 1. Just days later, though they weren’t playing in the same group, Burleson edged Peterson by a stroke to win the Minnesota Public Golf Association Mid-Public Links Championship at Goodrich Golf Course.

While Burleson holds a slight edge in recent meetings, it’s Peterson who holds the advantage Wednesday when the defending champion begins the final round of the 33rd MGA Mid-Amateur champion with a two-stroke lead over Burleson.

“With Justin and I pulling away, it will be a match-play scenario,” Peterson said Wednesday. “This time I get a two-hole head start, so hopefully I can take advantage of it. Our head-to-head is pretty even over the years, so I’m hoping I can pull ahead for good.”

Both Peterson and Burleson carded rounds of 6-under par 66 during Tuesday’s second round to distance themselves from the field as Peterson sits in the lead at 10-under par 134 with Burleson not far behind at 136.

Playing his second round at Willinger’s Golf Club Wednesday, Peterson started the scoring by sinking his birdie chance at the par-5 second before holing his approach from 150 yards at the fourth hole for eagle to move to 6 under for the tournament.

Peterson, from Valleywood Golf Course, followed his eagle by sinking another birdie opportunity at the par-4 fifth hole and would turn at 4 under for the round.

Cooling off slightly over his final nine holes, Peterson rolled in birdie at the 10th to move to 9-under before hitting his approach from a fairway bunker at the 16th to inside of a foot, tapping in for birdie and Peterson would finish the day bogey-free with the lead at 10-under 134.

“I played very well again today. The driver is still working very well—hitting almost every fairway,” Peterson said. “My irons have been very consistent, hitting many greens and being in close enough to make birdie.”

Peterson rolled in a short birdie putt on the final hole a year ago at Southview Country Club to post a final-round 69 and edge Andy Jacobson to win the 2017 MGA Mid-Amateur Championship.

Despite over 15 amateur victories to his credit, Peterson remains winless on the season. Since regaining his amateur status in 2013, he has collected at least one victory in each of the past five seasons.

In search of his third win of the season Wednesday, Burleson got off to a furious start Tuesday at The Legends Club, rolling in three birdies over his first four holes. He sank a 12-footer at the first before giving himself a tap-in birdie at the second.

A two-putt birdie at the fourth put Burleson at 5 under for the championship and he would turn following back-to-back birdies to close out his front nine.

“I was hitting it good and the ball was going in,” Burleson said of his start Tuesday. “After the front nine I was 5 under for the day, 7 under for the tourney and checked the leaderboard and saw Trent was 9 under. I thought, ‘What do you have to do to get a lead around here?’ So, I had to step on it a little more.”

Burleson carried his streak to his back nine by drilling his birdie putt from 30 feet at the par-4 10th and tapped in for birdie at the 11th for his fourth consecutive birdie to get to 9 under. He would finish the day with a round of 66 following a bogey on the final hole.

“Both courses played about the same, there was a low number out there yesterday [at Willinger’s],” Burleson said Tuesday. “I hit my wedges a little closer today and made more putts. I drove it great both days and if you hit your driver straight at these two courses, especially with the tees up, it’s going to be a wedge-fest.

“I haven’t played much the last couple months—I pulled out of a couple tournaments,” said Burleson who has been tending to his wife’s health issue. “I’ve probably played three times in the last month and a half, but the putting stroke is still there. Same thing as earlier in the year—hitting good drives and putting good. I haven’t had any three-putts the last two days and it’s nice to see some go in.

“I look forward to another round with Trent—it’s a common theme,” Burleson laughed. “I have a feeling he’ll go under par again, so I’ll probably need to shoot the same thing tomorrow.”

Troy Johnson, winner of the 2014 championship at Chaska Town Course, will begin Wednesday’s final round in third place at 3-under 141, seven shots off the lead.

The final round of the 33rd MGA Mid-Amateur Championship is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Wednesday at The Legends Club.

ABOUT THE Minnesota Mid-Amateur

In 1988, the MGA Mid-Amateur Championship was introduced at Edina Country Club. It is similar to the Amateur except participants must be 30 years or older and have a handicap index of 6.4 or lower. The low 54-hole score determines the winner. It is one of the most popular events, aside from the Amateur, as 264 players start the championship with aspirations of the title.

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