Mike Fiedler (L) and Johnny Larson
(Minnesota Golf Association photo)
By Nick Hunter
WILLMAR, MN (August 25, 2017) – Sinking an eagle on the first hole Wednesday, Johnny Larson erased an early deficit while teammate Mike Fiedler slammed the door with a 25-foot birdie on the final hole to give the twosome a two-stroke victory at the 56th Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Eagle Creek Golf Club.
Fiedler and Larson carded a 9-under par 63 to open the tournament Monday and trailed Eric Peterson and Dean Wilson by one stroke before carding a final-round 65 to finish ahead of the field at 16-under par 128.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time—maybe our sixth or seventh one, so it’s fun to finally get one,” Larson said after the win Wednesday. “We’ve been close to having good rounds the last four or five years, but never put one together. We get along as good as anybody and high-fiving making birdies and eagles. It’s as good as it gets.”
“We know each other really well, but I think our games complement each other a lot,” Fiedler added. “We both hit it pretty good and hit a lot of greens. Today we never were even close to making bogey. These tournaments aren’t easy to win and, at our age, it’s nice to get one.”
Larson’s second at the par-5 first hole came to rest six feet behind the flag and he would sink his eagle look to boost the twosome to 11-under for the championship.
“I think the eagle was huge for us,” Fiedler said, “A lot of the field was quite a ways back, so to getting a couple early was big.”
Moving to 12-under after Fiedler tap-in for birdie at the fourth, Larson drained his 20 foot downhill birdie putt from the back edge of the eighth green to put the pair at 13-under for the tournament heading to the final nine.
“We had a couple lazy putts that didn’t get to the hole, but it was an average 32 [front nine],” Fiedler said. “We parred 10, 11 and 12 and we were a little bummed—it wasn’t the finish to the front that we were hoping for.”
Fiedler and Larson both reached the par-5 13th in two before Larson lagged his eagle chance to four feet and dropped his birdie putt to send the two to 14-under and into a three-way tie for the lead with the twosome of Joe McCormick and Ryan Alsleben and the team of Jim and Danny Anderson.
The Andersons would get to 15-under before taking bogey at the 15th and failed to convert short birdie putts on each of the final three holes, while McCormick and Alsleben were unable to card a birdie over their final five holes.
Fielder put his approach inside of five feet at the short, par-4 17th and would convert his birdie chance to give him and Larson a one-stroke lead with one hole to play.
Electing to hit iron off the final tee, Fiedler put his approach to the back-left edge of the 18th green. On a perfect line, Fiedler’s putt rolled up to the cup and fell for birdie to give the two a two-shot victory at 16-under par 128.
“We didn’t have a number. We’ve gotten ahead of ourselves in this tournament a couple times and struggled coming in,” Larson said. “We made the eagle on one and kept feeding off each other after that. We didn’t make a bogey today, which is good. It’s easy on a course like this to get lazy with a couple shots.”
Posting the second lowest round of the tournament to open the championship in perfect conditions Monday, Fiedler and Larson said the luck of the draw was on their side this week as high winds kept scores down on the second day of competition.
“It was a clear benefit. We thought we got the rough side of the draw on Monday when we were out here, but it cleared up and calmed down,” Fielder said. “It was one of the biggest differences I’ve seen in the two days since we’ve been here.”
“We’ve been on the wrong end of the draw the last four or five years. It’s one of those you can’t pick or choose,” Larson commented.
Larson won the 2014 MGA Players’ Championship at Woodhill Country Club after a one-hole playoff with Trent Peterson to collect his first victory in the state since winning the 2007 and 2011 Birchmont.
A three-time qualifier of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, Larson won the 2003 Class A state individual title by 10 shots as a senior at Springfield High School before qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championship weeks later. He went on to play collegiate golf at Iowa State University.
No stranger to success in a four-ball format, Fiedler and partner, Clinton Dammann, qualified for the inaugural U.S. Four-Ball Championship in 2015 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. He also qualified for the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Stonewall in Elverson, Pa.
Fiedler teamed up with Andrew McCain to win the 2015 Minnesota Public Golf Association Combination Championship at Bunker Hills. Playing with Laura Olin, Fiedler claimed the 2006 MGA Mixed Amateur Championship at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club.
Individually, Fiedler notched his first amateur victory at the 1999 Minnesota PGA Junior Players’ Match Play tournament and added a victory at the Lauren Krugel Invitational to his resume in 2005.
With home-course advantage last month at the Midwest Cup at Eagle Creek, Danny Anderson posted a final-round 66 to earn medalist honors by one shot, leading Team Minnesota to its third team title.
Unable to replicate his fortune from three weeks ago, a bogey and three missed birdie chances down the stretch Wednesday proved costly for Danny and Jim Anderson as the two finished in a tie for second with McCormick and Alsleben at 130.
“We ham and egged it pretty well on the front, but our goal was to get to 15-under by hole 13 and we did that. We had our chances coming in,” Danny Anderson said Wednesday. “Jim’s wedge shots today—and yesterday, too—but he was hitting wedges to five-seven feet and it looked easy. It’s his first state event—he was the horse of the team and I rode his coattails. My putter cost us the tournament, unfortunately.”
“We had a couple holes where we couldn’t cover each other up,” Jim Anderson added. “One bogey today and one in the first round, but you couldn’t ask for a better tournament."
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