Minnesota Golf Association

Belisle, Capouch, Conn and Schmitz Last Four Standing at MGA Players

August 18, 2020

By Nick Hunter
  HASTINGS, Minn. – For the first nine years after regaining his amateur status in 2009, Sammy Schmitz accumulated 17 state championship titles. The most elusive championship trophy during that stretch was the Minnesota Golf Association Players’ Championship, which he was finally able to cross off his list of Minnesota majors yet to win when he defeated Ben Greve, 3 and 2, at The Jewel Golf Club in 2017 for his 20th victory in the state
In search of his first individual championship since, Schmitz took two steps closer to his second title in three seasons Tuesday by defeating Stellan Orvick and former University of Minnesota golfer Noah Rasinski to advance to the semifinal round of the 42nd MGA Players’ Championship at Hastings Golf Club.
“I’ve hit some pretty good irons shots and definitely got out of trouble really well,” Schmitz said after picking up a pair of wins Tuesday. “I think everybody’s been in the trees a lot this week, but I feel like I’ve done a really good job of managing and getting up-and-down for par.
“Leading up to this week I’ve only played two rounds since the [MGA Mixed Amateur Team Championship], which was a month ago. I took some time off, which is fine because you’ve got to be hungry coming into this one if you’re going to keep going because it’s a lot of golf. I feel good and I feel like my game has gotten better each round."
Back-and-forth over the front nine during his opening match against Stellan Orvick Tuesday, Schmitz managed a 1-up lead through nine holes before adding wins at the 10th and 11th holes and held on for the win, 3 and 2.
Facing Rasinski during Tuesday’s quarterfinal round, Schmitz played nearly flawlessly during the first 11 holes by carding three birdies and an eagle to take a 4-up lead. Rasinski made a late charge with a birdie at the 12th and cut the lead in half by winning the 14th.
Rasinski, who claimed the MPGA State Public Links Championship Sunday at Loggers Trail Golf Course, hit his approach at the par-3 17th inside of five feet and rolled in his birdie look to pull within one. Sticking his approach to 10 feet at the 18th, Rasinski tied the match by sinking his birdie opportunity.
On the first playoff hole, Schmitz was unable to drop his birdie chance from 10 feet, but Rasinski’s par putt from six feet refused to fall as Schmitz will now advance to the semifinals for just the second time in 11 appearances at the championship.
“I have somewhat mixed feelings at this point,” Schmitz said. “I didn’t have the tee game going yesterday or this morning, but it was much better this afternoon. I got hot for a little while and [Rasinski] kept hanging in there—I don’t think he made any bogeys down the stretch and he made a great comeback.
“There were no easy wins out there coming down the stretch.”
Schmitz claimed his 21st state victory with partner Jon Holmes at the MPGA Combination Championship in 2018 and looks to become the eighth player in tournament history to win multiple titles at the event.
“Tomorrow I need to play like I did this afternoon—three or four under,” he said, “I just need to do that a couple of times and it should come.”
Schmitz will now face Ryan Conn, who sank a pair of lengthy putts late during his quarterfinal round against Max Tylke to come from behind and claim the victory, 1-up.
Conn fell down early to Tony Brown during Tuesday’s Round of 16 match but would bounce back to build a 3-up lead through 11 holes.
Despite a pair of late bogeys, Conn hung on to defeat Brown, 1-up, to advance to the quarterfinal round against Max Tylke. Trailing by three through 11 holes, Conn battled back to tie the match by winning the par-3 15th. He took his first lead against Tylke by dropping a 30-footer for eagle from off the left edge of the 16th green.
Tylke struck back by winning the 17th with a par, but Conn closed out the match on the final hole when he sank a birdie putt from 50 feet on the two-tiered 18th green.
“The last couple of days have been good. Every match has its own momentum and you kind of play to the flow of the round,” Conn said Tuesday. “If guys are making birdies, all of the sudden everyone is hitting good shots. Then guys start hitting it crooked, which you can do out here pretty easily, and the next thing you know, it’s 5-footers for par and pars are winning holes. Each match has been unique and kind of has its own theme.
“I’m elated to be here and whenever you get the chance to compete and be in the heat of it, it’s so fun because you never know when your next chance will be.”
Conn, who teamed up with Hunter Rebrovich to win last year’s MGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Classic at Madden’s, claimed a top-25 finish Sunday at the MPGA State Public Links, but the 38-year-old is admittedly beginning to feel the grind of six rounds of golf in the last four days.
“The last few days has been a ton of golf and for me it’s been fatigue. Waking up at 6 a.m. and driving an hour. The nice thing is everybody is in the same boat and I’m not going against anyone fresh,” Conn said. “This afternoon, Max and I were both very tired and both gasping for air. I got lucky and caught Max on a day that most people don’t—he’s normally always on his game.”
Minnesota State University-Mankato golfer Cecil Belisle went up early during his match against Matt Armstrong early Tuesday and held on for a slim, 1-up, victory to advance to the quarterfinal round against Shane Barnes.
Belisle again struck early during Tuesday’s afternoon session and built a 3-up lead through 11 holes, helped by his eagle at the par-5 10th. Belisle’s birdie chance at the 16th was conceded as he earned the victory, 4 and 2, moving on to the semifinals Wednesday and will face Peter Capouch.
Playing in his first MGA championship this week, Capouch holed his approach from 98 yards on the first playoff hole early Tuesday to defeat Topher Baron, 1-up, before facing Tony Vincelli during the quarterfinal round. Trailing Vincelli late, Capouch won the 17th with a par before sinking his birdie chance at the last to move on to face Belisle early Wednesday.
“It’s been a long grind. I haven’t played in any of these events, but it’s been a lot of fun. The golf has been good and the matches have been tough and competitive,” Capouch said Tuesday. “Tony played more consistently this afternoon. I made a lot of bogeys, but I made a lot of birdies, too.
“I’m finding quite a few fairways, but I have been struggling with my iron game," the 41-year-old former Harvard University hockey player said, “My driving has been good enough and my putting has been solid.”
The 42nd MGA Players’ Championship concludes Wednesday when the semifinal matches get underway at 7:30 a.m. at Hastings Golf Club.

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