Minnesota Golf Association

Burleson and Johnson Co-Leaders Following First Round of MGA Mid-Amateur

August 29, 2021

By Nick Hunter
  WILLMAR, Minn. – Looking for his first win of the 2021 season this week, Justin Burleson carded a 3-under 69 Sunday at Eagle Creek Golf Club to earn a share of the lead with two-time champion Troy Johnson to begin the 34th Minnesota Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship.
Winner of the 2019 championship at Bearpath Golf and Country Club, Burleson carded four birdies against one bogey for his opening-round 69 Sunday and will now change venues for his second round Monday at Little Crow Country Club.
“All-in-all, today was great. Once again it came down to putting,” Burleson said following his round Sunday. “No three-putts and made quite a few and I chipped well. Out here it’s all about finding the fairway and keeping it below the hole.
“I’ve been struggling the last month or two with wedges and scoring, which is normally the better part of my game. I came out here three hours early today, the only guy out here, and it paid off.”
Burleson started the scoring Sunday by holing his bunker shot for birdie at the par-3 second before sinking his birdie chance from six feet at the ninth, turning in 2-under.
He would get to 3-under by rolling in a 12-footer at the 12th and converted a short birdie chance on the following hole to move to the top of the leaderboard at 4-under. Following a bogey at the 14, Burleson kept his round together by saving par at the 15th and 16th and finished the day with one final up-and-down at the 18th to card a 3-under 69.
Burleson has claimed at least one tournament win in each of the past three seasons, with his most recent win coming at the MGA Mid-Players’ Championship at Cannon Golf Club last year. In six starts this season, he has three top-10 finishes, including a second-place finish at the Minnesota Public Golf Association Four-Ball Championship with partner Jesse Larson.
“Ball-striking has been okay. I had a few events where I didn’t putt very well,” Burleson said. “Had my lowest finish ever at the [MGA Amateur Championship] and I hope I can finish the season off right this week.”
Johnson, who claimed his fourth MGA Mid-Players’ Championship earlier this season at Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort, strung together four consecutive birdies during his back nine Sunday to help him into a share of the lead at 69.
“I didn’t really feel that great with my round today,” Johnson said Sunday. “I scored well, but didn’t hit the ball that well and had three three-putts.
“The positive was that I still put a good score on the board. It seems like I’ve been so close the last month or so to shoot some low scores. Just waiting for it all to come together.”
Johnson birdied the opening hole Sunday to begin the championship at Eagle Creek Golf Club, but would give back a stroke with a bogey at the third. Rolling in his birdie opportunity at the ninth, Johnson turned in 1-under.
Slipping to even par for the round with a bogey at the 12th, Johnson would quickly climb the leaderboard by carding four straight birdies beginning at the 13th to reach 4-under. A bogey at the par-4 17th put Johnson in the clubhouse at 3-unde 69.
Johnson claimed the 2010 championship when it was played at Minneapolis and Burl Oaks Golf Clubs, and won his second championship four years later at Wild Marsh Golf Club and Chaska Town Course.
Edging Paul Meyer, 2 and 1, in mid-June at The Quarry at Giants Ridge, Johnson earned his fourth Mid-Players’ title for his first win in seven seasons. The 50-year-old Johnson finished one shot back of Trent Peterson at last year’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Northland Country Club.
Playing on his home course this week at Eagle Creek Golf Club, Matt Gorans fired a 2-under 70 Sunday to sit one shot off the lead in third place, while four players finished the opening round in a share of fourth at 1-under 71.
The 34th MGA Mid-Amateur Championship continues Monday when the second round gets underway at 9 a.m.

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