EDINA, Minn. (June 25, 2013) — 64 players began the 35th Minnesota Golf Association’s Players Championship Monday at Interlachen Country Club, but after Tuesday’s quarterfinal round the field has been whittled down to four.
72 holes have been played in the first two days and another 36 holes Wednesday will determine this year's champion.
The biggest surprise of the afternoon was Dalton Charboneau, Sundance Golf Course, beating 2012 MGA Men’s Player of the Year Sammy Schmitz, 3 and 2 to advance to Wednesday’s semifinal.
Schmitz, Valleywood Golf Course, took an early lead of 1-up to the fourth hole before Charboneau birdied the fifth to even the match and won the following hole as Schmitz made bogey. Both players would halve the final three holes of the front nine and Charboneau maintained his 1-up lead.
Schmitz battled back to even the match with a birdie on the par-4 10th hole at the match remained deadlocked for the next three holes. From that point Charboneau would take control of the match with a birdie on the 13th to recapture the lead.
Schmitz would make bogey on three consecutive holes and with Charboneau making par on all of them, he clinched the match and a spot in the semifinals with a 3 and 2 victory.
“This afternoon I hit the ball the best I have all week. I played smart but conservative because some of these pins out here are in tough spots and if you try to go at them you can put yourself in bad position,” Charboneau said after his quarterfinals win.
“To score out here you have to hit the fairway. The ball sits so far down in the rough because it’s so thick – but today I hit the tee ball good and kept myself in play. My irons were on today and my putter saved me as well. I made a lot of putts from five feet and in,” he said.
When Charboneau made the big right to left putt for birdie on the 13th he felt as though the match was in his control and knew what he had to do to finish. “I knew then that if I could hit the fairways after that I’d be in good position. I only had to hit driver on 14 and 18 for the rest of the round, so if I could keep it in the fairway on those two holes, I knew I could play my irons in the rest of the way.”
2008 champion Trent Peterson faced Minnesota Gopher Robert Bell in one of the closer matches of the tournament with Peterson making par on the last hole to win the match.
The match was even on the front side with both players taking two holes from the other and it remained even through 15 holes as the two halved eight straight holes. On the 16th Peterson capitalized on a miscue by Bell to make par and win the hole going 1-up with two holes remaining, but then Bell would take advantage of a Peterson bogey to make par and again even the match heading to the final hole.
On the final hole Bell had an opportunity to force a playoff but his par putt slid just past the hole and Peterson was victorious, 1-up.
“This was a tough match; we both played great golf. Neither him nor I made any mistakes and then in the last four or five holes it’s like we got tired or something. There were a couple of bogeys from both of us. I think we were even or maybe below par up to that point,” Peterson said.
“It came down to putting like always. At this point I’m just trying to survive; I didn’t know who I was going to be playing today but I knew they were going to be tough matches. If you’re in the Sweet 16 of this tournament – you’re a good golfer,” Peterson said.
In the closest and possibly the most entertaining match of the tournament so far, Dominic Kieffer and Jesse Polk needed 20 holes to determine who would be moving on to the semifinals Wednesday.
Kieffer, Somerby Golf Club, jumped out to an early lead with a birdie on the first hole but that was as far as he would get until late as Polk squared the match on the par-3 third and holed out from about 60 yards on the sixth for eagle to take the 1-up lead.
Polk went 2-up after a Kieffer bogey on the eighth and then 3-up on the 10th and the match looked all but over for Kieffer. Kieffer cut into the lead briefly on the 11th, but another bogey on the par-5 12th and the deficit was back to 3-down.
With a birdie on 13, Kieffer again showed signs of life as Polk’s lead fell to 2-up. Holes 14, 15 and 16 were halved and Polk carried his 2-up lead to the 17th. With an opportunity put the match away, Polk missed his par putt while Kieffer made his to cut Polk’s lead to just one with one hole left.
On the 18th both players found the green in two, Kieffer was 12 feet below the hole, but Polk was left with an uphill right to left putt from about 25 feet. Polk’s chance to close out the tournament came up about three feet short but just needed to make his par putt after Kieffer two-putted for par. His par putt caught the right edge and swung the ball 180 degrees without dropping and the match would continue.
Both players would birdie the first playoff hole before Polk found the green in regulation to two-putt for the victory 1-up in 20 holes.
“I hit some really nice putts today, especially on the first playoff hole. I made my 25-footer for birdie and he just missed his 20-footer for eagle. That was awesome for as nervous as I was at that point,” Kieffer said.
“Being down two with two holes to go I think a lot of people would have some doubts but he just didn’t finish as well as I thought he would have. In the end I made a couple more shots. My hat is off to him; he’s a great player.”
In the last quarterfinal match, Minnesota Gopher Genki Hirayama looked to have his match with Scott Gustafson, Hazeltine National Golf Club, wrapped up early as Hirayama took a commanding 6-up lead after just seven holes but Gustafson battled back ferociously as he would win the eighth and ninth holes to go 4-down.
A mistake by Hirayama, University Les Bolstad, on 11 caused his lead to be cut to 3-up and another miscue by Hirayama on 15 dropped his lead to just 2-up. But it wouldn’t be enough for Gustafson as he and Hirayama both parred the final two holes and Hirayama clinched the match 2 and 1 to advance to Wednesday’s semifinals.
Semifinal action will begin Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. at Interlachen Country Club.
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