Christensen Fends Off a Surging Peterson to Win 13th MPGA Mid-Public Links Championship
June 18, 2017
By Nick Hunter
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Curling in an eight-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday, Michael Christensen defeated Trent Peterson to win the 13th Minnesota Public Golf Association Mid-Public Links Championship at Highland National Golf Course.
Firing back-to-back rounds of 70, Christensen finished tied with Peterson on top of the leaderboard at 4-under par 140, before Christensen made a superb up-and-down for birdie from a greenside bunker to earn his first victory in the state since his team won the 2011 MGA Amateur Team Championship.
“I knew the wind was going to blow today, so my goal was to make nothing more than a bogey and give myself opportunities at the par-5’s,” Christensen said following his victory Sunday. “More than anything I played it by ear to get a feel for how the course was playing. Anytime you’re playing when there’s no leaderboard, you just have to keep a good attitude and really fight to the end no matter what.
“High finishes are always nice, but you get to a point in your life where I don’t care what event it is or what time of the year it is, victories always feel good. You tee it up to win events. Trent is on a roll right now, so to knock him off—he and [Sammy Schmitz] are arguably the best two players in the state.”
Beginning the final round in a tie for second place, one shot behind Jake Witham, Christensen took advantage of both par-5’s on the front side, rolling in back-to-back two-putt birdies at the fifth and sixth holes but would draw even for the round with back-to-back bogeys at the ninth and 10th holes.
“I kind of fell asleep there on nine and ten—I hit terrible lag putts on both of them and three-putted to make two bogeys,” Christensen said.
Regaining his footing by converting his birdie look at the 12th, Christensen got back to 3-under for the championship before rolling in a 25-footer for birdie at the par-3 16th and would force a playoff with Peterson who was already in the clubhouse at 140, shooting 6-under par 66 Sunday.
Christensen pulled his tee shot left of the 10th fairway on the first playoff hole and took an aggressive line over the hazard at the flagstick with his second which found the bunker short-left of the green. His sand shot rolled to eight feet and he sank his birdie chance after Peterson missed.
“The putt in the playoff was a very similar putt to the one I had on 18 from the same distance and it caught the bottom side and lipped in,” Christensen said. “It could’ve just as easily stayed out, but it was relieving to see it go in.
“To go into the heart of the season win a win is nice and it takes a little pressure off and more than anything just to be in the hunt, it’s good to feel that when you haven’t played much this year and hopefully draw upon that and springboard me to a nice summer.”
Christensen is a three-time winner and two-time defending champion of the Vern Fryklund Northwest Invitational held at Mesaba Country Club in Hibbing, Minn.
He won two state Class AA individual championships in 1994 and 1996 while at Grand Rapids and the MGA State Junior Boys’ in 1994. Christensen’s biggest win to date came in 1995 when he won the MGA State Amateur at Alexandria Golf Club as a 17-year-old.
In search of his second win in as many days Sunday, Peterson rebounded quickly from his opening-round 74 Saturday by chipping in for birdie from 30 feet on the first hole Sunday to get to 1-over for the championship.
Rolling in a birdie from four feet at the par-5 fifth, Peterson moved to even par before heating up on the back nine Sunday. He sank his birdie look at the 10th from six feet before chipping his third shot to within two feet at the par-5 12th to get to 2-under for the tournament.
Peterson drained a 25-foot bender at the 13th and carded his sixth birdie of the round at the 17th, rolling his putt around the cup before falling to give Peterson a 6-under par 66.
For Peterson, it’s been a busy week as he has now played seven rounds of golf over the past four days. He defeated Justin Burleson earlier Saturday to win the MGA Mid-Players’ Championship at St. Cloud Country Club before teeing off in the first round of the MPGA Mid-Public Links later Saturday.
“Physically my legs are very tired,” Peterson said after playing 115 holes since Thursday. “I took a cart both days out here and I never take carts. Golfing-wise there is no fatigue in my swing at all.”
Peterson will look to defend his title when he tees off in the first match of the 39th MGA Players’ Championship at 7:45 a.m. Monday at The Jewel Golf Club.
13TH MPGA MID-PUBLIC LINKS CHAMPIONSHIP
HIGHLAND NATIONAL GOLF COURSE
ST. PAUL, MINN.
6,546 YARDS, PAR 72
1. Michael Christensen, Bunker Hills GC, 70-70—140 (won playoff)
2. Trent Peterson, Valleywood GC, 74-66—140
3. Daryl Schomer, Wapicada GC, 70-73—143
4. Tommy Rymer, Highland Nat’l GC, 70-74—144
5. Max Fox, Dakota Pines GC, 73-72—145
6. Rick Frieburg, Monticello CC, 75-71—146
T7. Randy Garber, University GC, 74-73—147
T7. Eric Rislove, Prestwick GC, 73-74—147
T9. Shane Barnes, Braemar GC, 75-73—148
T9. J.T. Johnson, Valleywood GC, 75-73—148
T9. Tim McKenney, Valleywood GC, 70-78—148
T9. Steve Whittaker, Pebble Creek GC, 73-75—148
T9. Jake Witham, Keller GC, 69-79—148
For complete tournament results go to: www.golfgenius.com/pages/3215942360303163655