Dave Carothers proved age is just a number in Minnesota
EDINA, MN (July 19, 2017) - Overcoming an early bogey during his final round Wednesday, Dave Carothers played his final 10 holes at 5-under par to shoot 66, claiming the 114th Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Championship at Interlachen Country Club as the second oldest player in tournament history.
Hosting the championship for the eighth time since 1913, Interlachen’s 6,900-yard layout tested players both physically and mentally during the first 36 holes, conceding a single round below par.
Saving his best performance of the week for the final round Wednesday, Carothers was helped by an eagle and two birdies on his back nine to defeat Grady Meyer by one shot at 4-over par 214.
“This means the world—I’ve been playing in this thing for 30 years and my best finish was up at [Northland Country Club] about 15 years ago when I finished eighth or ninth,” Carothers said after his victory Wednesday. “This tournament represents a lot of the best players in the state.
“I never had a penalty stroke and never made a [double-bogey] and I hit the ball in the right places. There are a lot of really good players that had some big numbers and this course can do that to you. I was proud of myself that I didn’t do that and also the way I finished, considering it was under the gun.”
Carothers, of Wild Marsh Golf Club, opened the championship with a 2-over par Monday, but struggled during the second round Tuesday, recording eight bogeys with two birdies to shoot 6-over par 76 to sit three shots behind of leaders Troy Johnson, Tyler Obermueller and Grady Meyer heading into Wednesday’s final round.
“Being three shots back I figured there might be a chance. There were a lot of good players ahead of me that I was chasing, but this is a really hard golf course and it’s not hard to get off track.”
Starting his day on the tenth tee, an early bogey at the put Carothers at 9-over and five shots out before he stuck his approach to a foot at the par-4 18th for a tap-in birdie to turn at even par for the round.
Following an important up-and-down at the first where he sank his eight-footer for par, Carothers jumped into contention at the par-4 second hole when he holed his approach from 130 yards with a wedge to move within two of Meyer.
“That’s when I said, ‘If we can do something special on the last seven holes, we might be able to get there,’” Carothers said.
Meyer’s lead fell to one following a bogey at the third and a par by Carothers before he drew even with Meyer when he converted a short birdie at the par-5 fourth. He would take the outright lead at the fifth when he sank a downhill bender from 15 feet.
Managing to erase a four-shot deficit in a matter of six holes, Carothers hit the shot that would firmly give him a hold on the tournament, leading to a spectacular up-and-down at the par-4 sixth. Carothers’ drive found the rough right of the fairway leaving without a clear shot at the green.
Punching out below the trees, Carothers’ second shot came to rest in the first cut off the front edge where he lagged inside of three feet and saved par to maintain a one-stroke lead with three holes to play.
After leaving back-to-back birdie putts short at the seventh and eighth holes, Carothers hit what he called the best drive of the tournament on the final hole but nearly ran it through the fairway and into the water hazard. From the rough and three feet from the water, Carothers’ approach rolled past the back-left pin to the fringe, 10 feet away where he would two-putt for par to post a 4-over par 214.
Needing birdie to force a playoff heading to the final hole, Meyer’s approach came to rest in nearly the same spot as Carothers’, but Meyer pushed his putt right to give Carothers his biggest amateur victory at 48-years-old.
In one of the best performances of his career, Carothers shot a final-round 68 at the 2002 Minnesota State Open only to lose to Dave Tentis in a playoff, but said he channeled that experience Wednesday in hopes of reversing his luck at Interlachen.
“About 15 years ago I got beat in the [Minnesota State Open] and I was in the third to final group so nobody was really expecting anything. I shot a final-round 68 there, so that’s what I was thinking about and thought maybe I could do it again to put some pressure on the leaders. I thought if I could something in the 60’s today, we’d see what happens,” he said.
A former University of Minnesota golfer in the early ‘90s, Carothers said he was tempted slightly by fellow Gophers who had turned professional after graduating.
“I had a lot of teammates turn pro and people always asked me why I didn’t turn pro. I always told myself I wanted to be one of the best amateurs in the state and have fun with golf."
He has collected two wins at the Vern Fryklund Northwest Invitational before winning the 2011 MGA Mixed Amateur Team Championship.
James Scheller became the oldest player in the tournament’s history after winning the 1991 championship at Minnesota Valley Country Club at 52. A month after turning 48 in 2000, John Harris won his fourth and final MGA Amateur at Bearpath.
Turning 48 in March, Carothers edges Harris by just a few months to become the second oldest player to win in the 114th playing of the event.
Meyer, a recent University of Minnesota graduate, earns the best finish of his amateur career, shooting a final-round 70 Wednesday after opening the championship with a 72 before carding a 73 Tuesday.
“I played great—my ball striking was good and any green I missed was on the fringe,” he said after his round Wednesday. “I thought I executed my game plan really well and I had a lot of chances and a good chance on the last hole, but I just couldn’t get them to fall."
Meyer played his front nine at 1-under following a 20-foot birdie at the 13th, but grinded extremely well over the first half of the front nine getting up-and-down and rolling three par putts from at least four feet.
“One of my strengths is making comebackers and grinding out pars,” he said. “I was knocking in four or five-footers early and helped me get comfortable. I was hitting good shots under pressure and never felt that nervous all day. I thought I controlled my emotions and hit good golf shots.
“I’m taking away that I played a great final round of golf. I you told me I was going to shoot even par today, I would’ve thought for sure I was going to win. It was a great round by Dave—I heard about [Carothers’ eagle at No. 2] and when that stuff happens you chalk it up to maybe it’s his day.”
Obermueller carded a 1-over par 71 Wednesday to finish alone in third place, while 2015 MGA Mid-Players' champion, Joe O'Brien, posted the day's second round below par and the tournament's third with a 69 to finish tied for fourth with Myles Pfingsten and Sam Foust at 7-over 217.
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