Amateurs Slip Past Professionals at MGA/PGA Cup Matches
May 10, 2023 | 3 min.
By Nick Hunter
PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – In what was the narrowest margin of victory in 45 years, the amateurs from the Minnesota Golf Association edged the professionals from the Minnesota Section of the PGA 20.5-19.5 to claim the 46th MGA/PGA Cup Matches Wednesday at The Meadows at Mystic Lake.
While the two sides have twice played to a draw (1984 and 2004), only one previous contest has been decided by a single point, when the PGA won its first title at the championship in 1978 at Olympic Hills Golf Club.
The professionals still hold a commanding 28-16-2 overall lead at the championship, but the MGA has now taken eight of the last nine contests, including seven in a row beginning in 2014.
Securing points early for the MGA Wednesday was the twosome of 2022 MGA Women’s Player of the Year and defending MGA Women’s Amateur champion Taylor Ledwein and 2022 Minnesota State Junior Girls’ winner Madi Hicks, taking all four possible points from their professional counterparts.
“This is my first round that I’ve played so far and [my game] felt pretty good,” Ledwein said Wednesday. “I bounced back from a few bad shots with some wedges and some good putts. [Madi] and I were really working well out there together.
“I like that this format is really three matches in one. It gives you more incentive that you can’t bank on your teammate because you still have an individual match to play.”
“We got off to a really good start and after that we never really let them get back into it because we had a great front nine,” Hicks added. “Neither one of us had any big numbers and we both timed out our birdies really well.”
Also contributing to the MGA’s cause Wednesday was 2022 MGA Mid-Players’ champion Bryce Hanstad and partner Ryan Conn, who took three and a half points from the team of Jeff Sorenson and Jon Reigstad.
“[Hanstad] played great—sprinkled in a lot of birdies and I pitched in when I could,” Conn said. “It’s always a great event because any time you make it, you probably did some good things the year before.”
“We drove the ball well and hit a ton of greens,” Hanstad said. “It’s great getting some friendly competition without too much on the line and get some early reps in.”
Bethel University golfer Conor Schubring partnered up with the University of Minnesota junior Ben Warian to earn three of four points for the MGA, as did the twosome of four-time MGA Mid-Players’ champion Troy Johnson and North Dakota State University golfer Josh Galvin.
A bright spot for the professionals Wednesday was the pairing of 2022 Minnesota Senior Open champion Derek Stendahl and partner Eric Chiles, who swept all four points from 2022 Minnesota Public Golf Association Senior Public Links champion J.T. Johnson and 2022 MGA Senior Amateur champion Bob Neuberger.
“I made seven birdies today and played solid all the way through,” Stendahl said Wednesday. “At one point I was [5-under par] and I was only up by one, so it was a good match. [Chiles] turned it on and made some birdies himself.”
Lori Money and partner Angie Ause contributed three points for the PGA, winning their four-ball match, while Ause downed the MGA’s Brenda Williams in singles.
“It was a fun day—I think we had about eight birdies today,” Money said following her round Wednesday. “It was nice to have a senior division and we were all playing well, so it was never a grind.”
The team of Dale Jones and Thomas Vizina claimed a victory during their four-ball match over defending MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year Tim Peterson and partner John Spreiter, while Jones chipped in a victory over Peterson in singles to put three points on the board for the PGA.