Burleson and Norgaard to Meet in Finals of MGA Mid-Players' Championship
September 30, 2020
By Nick Hunter
CANNON FALLS, Minn. – With a pair of victories at Cannon Golf Club Tuesday, Justin Burleson moved closer to collecting his second Minnesota Golf Association Mid-Players’ Championship win in the past three seasons.
Eliminating Jamie Quesnel and former MGA Amateur champion Jesse Bull, Burleson will now face Matthew Norgaard when the final match gets underway Wednesday.
“Outside of two three-putts today, I’ve been putting great this week,” Burleson said. “About a week ago, something clicked and it’s all come down to the putter.”
Through his four matches this week, Burleson is 8-under par with three bogeys on his scorecard.
“Tomorrow I need to stay away from three-putts and keep it out of trouble. I have three bogeys in 48 holes—try to stay on that path and make them beat me. If I keep putting like I have been, it’ll be a good match tomorrow.”
Burleson’s day got off to peculiar start when his opponent, Quesnel, chose to side with caution and forfeit the quarterfinal match after feeling under the weather early Tuesday.
“Technology is nice because it allowed me to get some work done for a couple hours here in the clubhouse,” Burleson said. “It was actually a benefit because I felt much fresher on that back nine today than I would’ve if it had been my second 18 holes. It's unfortunate, but [Quesnel] did the right thing.”
Tied with Bull through six holes during their semifinal match late Tuesday, Burleson rolled in a 20-footer for birdie at the difficult 224-yard, par-3 seventh hole to take his first lead of the match, but Burleson would give Bull the ninth with a three-putt bogey.
Getting up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the 13th gave Burleson the only lead he would need late as he took advantage of a Bull bogey at the 15th to go up by two. Bull cut into the lead following a second three-putt bogey by Burleson at the 17th.
Looking to force extra holes, Bull rolled in an 18-footer for birdie at the last before Burleson sank his 12-footer to close out the match and earn a spot in the championship round against Norgaard.
“This last match against [Bull] was the match of the week for me so far,” Burleson said. “We both played well—he made some putts and I made some putts.”
Battling cool and windy weather again this week, the southeastern Texas product has shown a penchant for playing well in adverse conditions in recent years. Burleson claimed a two-stroke lead at last year’s MGA Mid-Amateur Championship in frigid and breezy conditions after the final two rounds were postponed nearly five weeks.
He won his first of two Minnesota Public Golf Association Mid-Amateur Public Links Championships in 2016 at Blackberry Ridge Golf Club despite extremely windy conditions for his first state victory.
“I tend to hit it straight and if I make a bogey, it doesn’t really rattle me. For me, it comes down to putting and the mental game and you’ve got to keep it in perspective. Maybe on a perfect sunny day you might shoot a 64, but that can’t be the expectation.”
In 2018, Burleson got the better of Trent Peterson at the MGA Mid-Players’ Championship at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club.
Norgaard, a longtime professional at Somerby Golf Club, who regained his amateur status in 2018, opened the championship Monday with a win over Ryan Luessenheide before getting past Tyler Obermueller, 4 and 3, to reach the quarterfinal round.
A pair of eagles and two birdies helped Norgaard to victory, 4 and 3, over Tony Krogen during Tuesday’s early session before he eliminated Tim McKenney, 2-up, to reach the finals against Burleson Wednesday.
“I played good this morning and not so good this afternoon, but just good enough,” Norgaard said after advancing Tuesday. “I was able to get up-and-down a few times and fortunate to advance.
“I’ve hit the ball well this week and putted well. I got tight here after round one today and didn’t feel like my body was moving that well, but I’ve been striking the ball well and putting some pressure on the other guys.”
The championship match of the 14th MGA Mid-Players’ Championship is scheduled to begin at 8:08 a.m. Wednesday at Cannon Golf Club.