Bob Neuberger (MGA photo)
Entering the final round of the 101st Minnesota Golf Association Senior Amateur facing a four-stroke deficit, Bob Neuberger played his first 13 holes in 2-under par in breezy conditions at Crow River Golf Club in Hutchinson, Minn. to jump up the leaderboard on his way to the first state championship win of his career.
Neuberger bookended the 54-hole championship with rounds of even par 71 to edge J.B. Lloyd by two strokes, shooting 4-over par 217.
“This is unbelievable. You see the names on this trophy and it’s a really big deal,” Neuberger said following his win Thursday. “It was a lot of fun. These events are so hard because these players are all so good. I played well enough to win and I’m excited about it for sure.
“This certainly helps your confidence—I know I can play and I enjoy playing golf. I’m certainly looking forward to the rest of the fall and moving into next year.”
A steady Neuberger made consecutive pars over his first six holes Thursday before nearly holing out his approach at the par-4 seventh. He would tap-in for birdie to reach 3-over for the tournament.
Hitting a 6-iron to eight feet on the ensuing hole led to a second consecutive birdie for Neuberger before he gave back a stroke with a bogey at the ninth, turning in 1-under for the day.
Carding his third birdie of the round at the par-5 12th gave Neuberger the lead for a second time during the final round, which he would never relinquish over his final six holes, despite a bogey at the 14th and an inconsequential bogey at the last.
“I didn’t have a goal other than I wanted to strike the ball and putt well, which I did.” said Neuberger of his mindset entering the final round Thursday. “I really didn’t have a bad shot and I was in the fairway most of the day. I putted well—out here on these greens, that was the biggest key.”
During his four previous appearances at the MGA Senior Amateur, Neuberger has never finished worse than 11th. Prior to his win Thursday, his previous best finish came in 2019 at StoneRidge Golf Club when he placed fifth.
“I didn’t have any expectations. I play enough with all these guys that I know I can play with them,” he said. “It worked out this week.”
Over the past five seasons, Neuberger’s remarkable consistency has led the soon-to-be 60-year-old to 12 top-10 finishes.
“I don’t hit the ball very long, but I hit it straight. I typically don’t get in a lot of trouble—that’s kind of my game,” Neuberger said. “Playing at [Burl Oaks Golf Club] for as long as I have, you have to hit good shots all the time, so I think that’s really helped as well.”
J.T. Johnson still sits atop of the points race for MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year with 208.33, while the 2021 Senior Amateur winner Brellenthin moves into second with 185.
Neuberger’s win boosts him into third place in the points race at 170, with 75 points on the line at the final senior event of the season, the MGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship, Sept. 28-29 at The Jewel Golf Club.
During the up-and-down final round, which saw four players hold at least a share of the lead Thursday, Lloyd overcame a bumpy start to his inaugural appearance at the championship this week, carding a birdie at the seventh after back-to-back bogeys earlier in his round.
Turning with a share of the lead with Neuberger at 3-over, back-to-back bogeys to begin his final nine holes proved costly for the 56-year-old Lloyd, who dropped to 5-over for the championship as he would card one more bogey at the 17th to place second at 6-over 219.
“I haven’t played in a long time and I kind of missed it. It was fun to see all the guys again,” said Lloyd, who made his first start at an MGA championship since 2008 this week. “I still play a little bit of competitive golf, but nearly as much as I did. Hopefully, this is the first of more events.
“I was playing well coming in, so I expected to play well. I thought if I shot even today with the way the wind was, that I’d be right in it. Disappointed I didn’t win, but to be back and get the competitive juices going—I had tons of fun.”
John Spreiter, who entered Thursday’s final round two shots off the lead, was in search of his first state victory since 2004, earned a share of the lead thanks to back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th holes.
After a bogey at the 14th, an errant tee shot at the par-5 15th hole led to a disastrous quadruple-bogey for John Spreiter, who would go on to finish third at 7-over 220.
John Brellenthin, who won on his home course at The Minikahda Club at last season’s weather-shortened event, began the tournament with back-to-back rounds of 3-over 74 and would play his first nine holes in 1-under Thursday before carding three bogeys over his inward nine, including back-to-back bogeys at the 17th and 18th.
Brellenthin placed fourth at 8-over 221.
The second-round leader Jay Gregory withdrew from the competition after hitting consecutive balls out of bounds on the short-but-narrow par-4 10th hole. The 2020 senior players' champ returned to the clubhouse after discovering that both of his tee shots found the OB guarding the left side of the hole.
by Nick Hunter, Minnesota Golf AssociationView results for Minnesota Senior Amateur
ABOUT THE Minnesota Senior Amateur
The Championship will consist of three
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
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
scoring players (plus ties) from the
Senior and Master Divisions, will continue and
an additional 18 holes on the final
day of competition.
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