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Brellenthin hangs on to win Minnesota Senior Amateur
Courtesy Minnesota Golf Association
Courtesy Minnesota Golf Association

Carding a second straight round of 1-under 72 during his second round of the 100th Minnesota Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship at The Minikahda Club Tuesday, John Brellenthin’s 2-under 144 held up for a two-stroke victory over John Mugford.

Brellenthin earns his first win since edging Don Berry at Dakota Pines Golf Club in 2018 to claim the Minnesota Senior Open, and becomes the first player in 20 years to win the championship on his home course.

Severe weather delayed the start of Tuesday’s second round by more than four hours. Once course and tournament officials deemed conditions playable, the championship was shortened to 36 holes with the morning wave of tee times finishing their second round Tuesday, while the afternoon wave of Tuesday’s second round played on Wednesday.

Bouncing back from a rough start to his final round Tuesday, Brellenthin carded three consecutive birdies to close out his front nine before back-to-back bogeys early on his back nine put him at 1-over for the round. He would finish with a pair of 40-foot birdie putts at his 16th and 17th holes to put him on top of the leaderboard for good.

“I don’t expect to win, but I’ll be very happy,” said Brellenthin, who was forced to wait until the final half of the field played its final round Wednesday to hoist the championship trophy. “We play as kids and play in college and never won the [State Amateur], so the [Senior Amateur] is something you dream of winning. I don’t expect to win, but I’d be very ecstatic if I do.

“The course played great today and I was really surprised that the greens weren’t slower than they were,” Brellenthin said after Tuesday’s storms delayed play. “I hit it way past the hole on 10 and 11 and three-putted my first two holes, so it’s a testament to superintendent and the grounds crew here.

Playing on his home course this week, Brellenthin improved on a 22nd-place finish from a year ago, but caused more self-induced pressure to perform, basically nullifying any sort of benefit over the field.

“They redid the greens three or four years ago and they’re a lot different,” he said. “I can’t go off of memory, so the whole home-course advantage thing is kind of interesting.

“I hit all 18 greens today. I’m not complaining at all—72 is a good score and I’m very happy. I’ve been a member here since I’ve been alive and I’m not sure I’ve hit 18 greens before.”

Mugford’s second-place finish at even par 146 Wednesday marks a career-best at a state championship since his third-place finish at the MGA Mid-Amateur Championship at St. Cloud Country Club in 1999.

“I think my expectations coming into the week was that I was hoping to make the cut,” Mugford said following his round Wednesday. “I think a lot of us want to make the cut so that we’re exempt for next year. After that, as you start playing better, you start raising your expectations.

Firing a 1-over 74 to begin the championship Monday, Mugford began Wednesday’s round from the 10th tee, three shots back of Brellenthin’s lead and rolled in his birdie chance at the par-4 12th from 10 feet to narrow the gap.

Taking a step back with a bogey at the 17th, Mugford got back to even par for the championship with a birdie at the 18th, dropping his birdie look from eight feet to pull within two shots of the lead.

Bouncing back from a bogey at the par-3 fourth, Mugford sank his birdie chance at the fifth and would finish his final round with consecutive pars to shoot 1-under 72 to place second at 146.

“The focus today was to still play it safe because it’s a really tough golf course. You have to be very precise and you’re still playing for par, hoping you can knock it close and make some birdie putts.

“I was hitting the ball good and I did think I might have a chance to make a run at it, but it’s still tough to go low out here. I gave myself a chance down the stretch, so I was satisfied with that. This week I realized that I can play a tough course, keep it going and hang in there.”

Jay Gregory, last year’s MGA Senior Players’ champion, fired a 1-under 72 Wednesday, one of just five scores below par for the entire field this week, to make a late charge up the leaderboard to finish in third place at 1-over 147.

The 101st MGA Senior Amateur Championship will be contested at Crow River Country Club in Hutchinson, Minn.

View results for Minnesota Senior Amateur
ABOUT THE Minnesota Senior Amateur

The Championship will consist of three divisions: Senior (55-64), Master (65-74) and Grand Master (75 and over). All players in the Championship will play 18 holes of stroke play each of the first two days. Master and Grand Master champions will be determined after 36 holes. Senior Division results will be determined after 54 holes.

There will be a cut after 36 holes, and the 36 lowest scoring players (plus ties) from the Senior and Master Divisions, will continue and play an additional 18 holes on the final day of competition.

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