Minnesota Golf Association

Brellenthin and Horsch Early Leaders at 100th MGA Senior Amateur

August 23, 2021

By Nick Hunter
  MINNEAPOLIS – Playing on his home course at this week’s 100th Minnesota Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship, John Brellenthin felt playing in familiar surroundings at The Minikahda Club could be a blessing and a curse.
“I thought the course played really difficult,” said Brellenthin, “I’ve played here so many times, it’s almost not a home-course advantage. Been here my whole life and I’ve never seen the golf course this firm and fast. We haven’t had a lot of rain and this course is normally really soft and you don’t get a lot of roll. Now there’s more roll, it’s shorter, but it’s not playing any easier.
“On one I hit a 5-iron off the tee and I don’t think I’ve ever hit an iron off of one in my life.  On 17 I hit it at the right bunker, which is [225 yards] off the tee with a 4-iron because I can’t hit it that far, and it went in the bunker. On that hole my home-course knowledge hurt me.”
Brellenthin carded four birdies against three bogeys and finished his opening round at 1-under 72 Monday to share the 18-hole lead with Carl Horsch, while four-time champion Jim Lehman and Bob Neuberger sit one shot back following their rounds of even par 73.
“I hit the ball well and I putted well the last nine,” said Brellenthin, who claimed the 2018 Minnesota Senior Open at Dakota Pines Golf Club. “I just tried to par every hole and go on to the next one.”
The 57-year-old Brellenthin rolled in his birdie chance at the first after hitting his approach to eight feet, but would card bogeys at the second and fifth to fall to 1-over. He would turn in even par after rolling in a 15-footer at the seventh after finding a greenside bunker.
Reaching the par-5 14th in two, Brellenthin two-putted for birdie to once again move into red figures for the championship and rolled in one last birdie on the ensuing hole, dropping a 20-footer to get to 2-under. Unable to get up-and-down for par at the 17th, Brellenthin finished his opening round with a share of the lead at 72.
“I’ve never thought this golf course is a very hard course, but it’s playing very difficult now,” said Brellenthin, who finished tied for 22nd at the championship last season. “If you don’t hit your ball in the right spot and control your ball, you’re in trouble. You’ve got to hit it high in the air and get it to stop. I was really happy shooting 72 today.”
Looking to improve on his 26th-place finish last season at Burl Oaks Golf Club, Horsch rallied during his final nine holes Monday, sinking three birdies, including a pair of 40-footers on his last two holes, to finish on top of the leaderboard at 72.
“Really a wonderful putting round,” Horsch said Monday. “I made a great up-and-down on 10, my first hole, and on 11, I made a seven-footer. It was one of those starts that just built on itself. The good putting held the first nine together.”
“A friend asked me to count up how many feet of putts in the round, and it had to be somewhere north of 130 feet on 26 putts.”
Beginning the round on the 10th tee Monday, Horsch carded a bogey at the par-5 14th and would turn in 2-over following a three-putt bogey at the 18th. Quickly finding his footing to begin his back nine, Horsch chipped from 30 yards at the first and converted his birdie chance to get to 1-over.
Unable to capitalize on his birdie chance at the seventh, Horsch dropped back-to-back birdie putts from 40 feet at the eighth and ninth to close out his first round.
“Kind of unexpected from that distance back-to-back. Hats off to my caddie, Jake, who read the greens perfectly.”
The MGA Senior Amateur Championship was last played at Minikahda in 2010, when Leif Carlson claimed the second of his three tournament wins. More recently, the club played host to the 2017 U.S. Senior Amateur, won by Pennsylvania’s Sean Knapp.
In the Master Division (65 and over), Don Howe carded a 1-over 74 Monday and will take a one-stroke lead to the final round over defending overall champion Leif Carlson, Bob Rolston, Bill Anderson and David Kokesh, all of whom carded rounds of 2-over 75.
John Wells fired a 6-over 79 Monday to lead the 75-and-over Grand Master Division and will begin Tuesday’s final round two shots better than Jerry Gruidl and David Haugan.
The 100th MGA Senior Amateur Championship continues Tuesday, with second-round action beginning at 8 a.m. at The Minikahda Club.

Morning Starting Times are playing Tuesday afternoon. Afternoon times are playing Wednesday morning. All competitions are 36 holes.

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