Home Course Advantage Pays Dividends for Hegland and Hogan at MGA Senior Players' Championship
September 28, 2020
By Nick Hunter
CANNON FALLS, Minn. – In a matter of a few hours at Cannon Golf Club Monday, Bruce Hegland went from being perhaps one of the bigger underdogs at the start of the 21st Minnesota Golf Association Senior Players’ Championship, to potentially one of the favorites.
Playing on his home course this week, Hegland staged a late-round comeback against defending champion and two-time MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year Jim Lehman during his opening match, claiming a victory with a birdie on the final hole before dispatching Tim Golden during the Round of 16 to advance to Tuesday’s quarterfinal matches.
“That was a huge hurdle,” said Hegland of opening against defending champion Lehman Monday. “If I played him on any other course, nine out of ten times he’s going to beat me. Playing on my course, I figured I had a chance.
“I know the greens and I know where to miss, but I still feel like an underdog with all the other good players in the tournament.”
Hegland, seeded No. 32 to begin the championship Monday, trailed Lehman by four after 12 holes, but would win five of the last six holes and clinched the upset with a birdie at the 18th to oust one of the state’s best senior players, 1-up.
During Monday’s afternoon session, Hegland engaged in a back-and-forth match against Golden and managed a 2-up lead after nine holes. The two traded jabs on each of the first three holes to begin the inward nine before Golden came firing back to win the 14th and 15th holes, pulling within one.
The 57-year-old Hegland slammed the door by winning the 16th hole to regain a 2-up lead, and would close out the match at the 17th with a par to win, 2 and 1.
“I hit the ball okay, but I just had a couple of hiccups. I hit the ball much better during the first round than I did during the second round,” said Hegland, a member at Cannon Golf Club since 2012. “If you can hit greens and make putts out here, you can score really well.
“I made putts when I had to and really played to par. Putting was key for sure because I was losing my driver. It was really tired by the time I got to 13 or 14—it was getting wild."
Hegland won his first state championship in 2005, teaming up with Tom Heinen to claim the Minnesota Public Golf Association Combination Championship at Bunker Hills Golf Club.
He picked up a pair of wins in 2013 by winning the MPGA Senior Public Links Championship at Southbrook Golf Course and defeated Steve Whittaker to win the MPGA Senior Match Play Championship at Pebble Creek Golf Club.
Hegland will square off against Jay Gregory, a top-ranked senior player nationally, during the quarterfinal round Tuesday after Gregory earned a pair of victories over Randy Jacobus and 2019 MGA Senior Amateur champion Trent Wilcox.
Also finding success on his home course to open the championship Monday was Scott Hogan, who edged Mark Sperling to begin the championship before getting past Tim Peterson, 1-up, to advance to the quarterfinal round when the tournament resumes Tuesday.
“It helps knowing the greens and knowing where not to go—even though I still went there a couple times,” Hogan said following his two wins Monday. “I hit my driver pretty well and stayed out of trouble. I really had no expectations, but I shot 72 this afternoon, which is a good score for me out here.”
Hogan, winner of the 2016 MPGA Senior Public Links at Phalen Park Golf Course, was helped by three birdies during his Round of 32 match against Sperling, despite a pair of late bogeys, to hang on for the victory, 1-up.
Facing off against Peterson during Monday’s afternoon session, the two halved the opening hole with birdies before Hogan took the lead with a birdie at the par-4 sixth. Peterson tied the match following back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th holes, but Hogan won the 16th with a par and hung on for the victory, 1-up.
Hogan will face 2019 runner-up Tom Whaley during Tuesday’s quarterfinal round. Falling to Lehman in the finals last season at Crow River Golf Club, Whaley got past Jay Traverse to begin the championship Monday before defeating Bob Snyder during the Round of 16.
Jerry Rose, the three-time defending MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year and 2017 champion, advanced with a pair of convincing wins Monday and will meet Jeff Teal when quarterfinal action begins Tuesday.
Winner of two MGA Mid-Amateur Championships, John Spreiter will face 2016 MGA Senior Men’s Player of the Year John Anderson Tuesday, after Spreiter collected wins against Steve Whittaker and John Hoffman. Anderson cruised during his opening-round match against Craig Hanson before getting past J.T. Johnson, 2 and 1, to reach the quarterfinal round.
The 21st MGA Senior Players’ Championship continues Tuesday when the quarterfinal round begins at 8 a.m. at Cannon Golf Club.