8 under for the Last 10 Holes, Haslerud & Yeager Win Senior 4-Ball
August 11, 2020
FARMINGTON -- As they were walking up the fairway on the 547-yard, par-5 12th hole at Southern Hills Golf Club on Tuesday afternoon, Matt Yeager and Dave Haslerud were looking at the scores in the MGA Senior Four-Ball (on the MGA scoring app). At the time, they were tied for fourth place with three other teams, at 10 under par, four behind the leaders, Jim Lehman and Jerry Rose. Both Lehman and Rose had just birdied the par-3 11th hole to go 6 under for the round, 14 under for the tournament.
"We were telling each other that we needed to get going, so that we could finish second," Yeager said after the round was over. "The way Jim and Jerry were playing, especially Jerry, we didn't think there was any way we could catch them."
But the Yeager-Haslerud team proceded to stage a remarkable comeback, going 6 under in the last seven holes, and as a result, they were able to claim a one-stroke victory over Lehman and Rose.
It ultimately came down to the 18th hole, a 514-yard par 5. Haselrud got his ball up and down for a closing birdie. Rose, the reigning three-time MGA Senior Player of the Year, had a 15-foot putt for eagle, which would have created a tie and forced a playoff, but he left the putt just short.
"I'd like to have that putt over," he lamented, having just shot 65 on his own ball. "But we played well. They played better. When the other guys are holing out wedge shots and shooting 29 on the back nine, you just have to tip your cap to them."
Haslerud and Yeager combined for their second consecutive 63 (8 under) and a 36-hole total of 126. Rose and Lehman closed with a 64 and finished at 127.
John Brellenthin and Tim Peterson turned in a 65, which put them at 129, and that was good for third place. Scott Hinners and Curt Howard were one behind them, at 130, after a second-round 66.
This was the second near miss in the last three Senior Four-Balls for Lehman and Rose. They finished second two years ago, losing in a playoff to Tom Heidrick and John Sexton, before winning the crown last year.
It was the second MGA title for both Haselrud and Yeager. Haslerud won the 2017 State Senior Amateur (he finished second in the 2019 Senior Am). Yeager won the MGA Four-Ball in 1999 with J.B. Lloyd (they had a couple of second-place finishes in the Four-Ball, as well).
Having begun the day tied for the lead, Haslerud and Yeager got off to a good start, with a birdie from Yeager at the 504-yard, par-5 first hole. Rose had a short putt for birdie, but missed.
"That was the last time he missed for a while," Haslerud noted.
Rose and Lehman, a four-time State Senior Amateur champion, pulled even again when Yeager bogeyed the second hole (206 yards, par 3) and Haselrud doubled it -- and then Rose went on a tear. He birdied the third hole (320, par 4), the fifth (369, par 4), the sixth (435, par 4), the seventh (376, par 4) and the ninth (472, par 5) to cap off a front nine of 5-under 30.
"He was making putts from everywhere," Yeager marvelled.
Meanwhile, Yeager and Haslerud were making six pars in a row, and drifting further and further behind.
The Northland Invitational is one of the biggest tournaments of the year in Minnesota amateur golf, and Yeager won it in 2008 -- then basically gave up the game for seven years.
It is axiomatic that gainful employment and children are hard on a tournament player's golf game, but the reverse is also true. Golf is hard on anyone who has a job and kids, and that was why Yeager decided to take a break.
"I have two girls," he said, "and a job, and I was always rushing off to the golf course. There really wasn't time for everything that I was trying to do. That was why I quit. Not trying to squeeze golf into the equation of my life just made things easier."
There was also the little matter of a bad hip. Yeager got that replaced in 2016. Although he has returned to golf, he hasn't played in many tournaments, but he's played in a few things, like club championships, and he won the Minnesota Valley club championship in 2017.
It was Yeager who snapped the par streak his team was on Tuesday, and got himself and Haslerud going in the right direction again with a birdie at No. 9. His 5-wood second shot missed the green, but he got up and down for a 4 that basically, that kept the Yeager and Haslerud within sight of Rose and Lehman, although they were still four behind.
Haslerud's birdie at the 417-yard, par-4 10th cut the deficit to three, but the double birdie by Lehman and Rose at the 163-yard 11th restored their four-stroke advantage. Yeager then matched the birdie by Rose at the par-5 12th.
And then Haslerud took over. He birdied the 13th (351 yards, par 4) with a 12-foot putt, and then hit the shot of the tournament on the next hole. After his drive at the 407-yard, par-4 14th, he was 108 yards from the pin. He hit what turned out to be the perfect shot with his sand wedge from 108 yards. It landed 2 feet short of the cup and hopped in -- for an eagle 2.
Suddenly, he and Yeager were within one of the lead.
"Now things were getting interesting," Haslerud said.
He and Yeager drew even when Rose and Lehman bogeyed the par-3 15th (147 yards), and after both teams parred the 16th hole, Haslerud gave his team the lead with a birdie at the 17th (355 yards, par 4), hitting a lob wedge from 84 yards and converting his 14-foot putt.
"It's a crazy game," he said, after he and Yeager received the first-place trophy. "With seven holes to go, we thought we had no chance, and now we're holding the trophy. Amazing."
In the Masters Division, brothers Bob and Bill Anderson won their fourth first-plae Senior Four-Ball trophy. They won the regular division in 2009, and they have now won three times in the Masters Division.
They shot 65 on Monday and led by two, and they seemed to be cruising to victory midway through the back nine of the final round. Then Rob Wight rattled off consecutive birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes, and he had a 5-foot putt for birdie at the 17th. It appeared that he and partner Rick Ehrmanntraut were going to be within a single shot of the Andersons. But Wight missed the putt, and he and Ehrmanntraut made a bogey at the 18th.
The Andersons birdied the 18th -- and won by four. The shot 67 on Tuesday, good for a 36-hole aggregate of 132.
Wight and Ehrmanntraut fell back with that valedictory bogey into a tie for second at 136, along with last year's champions, Don Howe and Denny Barr. Both of those teams shot 69 on Day 2.
Minnesota State Senior Four-Ball Championship
At Southern Hills Golf Club
Par 71, 6,343 yards
1. Dave Haslerud, Southview CC
Matt Yeager, Minnesota Valley CC 63-63--126
2. Jim Lehman, Windsong Farm
Jerry Rose, Alexandria GC 63-64--127
3. John Brellenthin, The Minikahda Club
Tim Peterson, Forest Hills GC 64-65--129
4. Scott Hinners, Bemidji Town & Country Club
Curt Howard, Bemidji T&C 64-66--130
T5. Mark Mueller, Majestic Oaks GC
Matt Mueller, Majestic Oaks 65-67--132
T5. Carl Horsch, Hazeltine National
Mark Knutson, Hazeltine 67-65--132
T5. Bob Neuberger, Burl Oaks GC
Greg Buckingham, Edinburgh USA 68-64--132
1. Bob Anderson, Bent Creek GC
Bill Anderson, Bent Creek 65-67--132
T2. Don Howe, Olympic Hills
Denny Barr, Bracketts Crossing 67-69--136
T2. Rob Wight, Southview CC
Rick Ehrmanntraut, Southview 67-69--136