Minnesota Golf Association

Israelson Cruises to Record Sixth Minnesota Senior PGA Professional Championship Title

August 14, 2019

By Nick Hunter
  WACONIA, Minn. – Rolling in birdies early and often Wednesday, Bill Israelson carded a final-round 67 at Island View Golf Club to claim his sixth Minnesota Senior PGA Professional Championship title, shooting a 9-under 135 to earn a seven-stroke, wire-to-wire victory over Craig Brischke.
Collecting his first win at the event since 2013, Israelson becomes the winningest golfer in tournament history, passing both Paul O’Leary and Joe Sodd and now will travel to compete in the 31st Senior PGA Professional Championship Oct. 3-6 at Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Austin, Texas.
“I came out today and wanted to see how I felt based off of yesterday and feed off of that,” said Israelson, who entered Wednesday’s final round with a two-stroke lead over Brischke. “My driver set up my putter. My strength is I’m a very good 15 to 30-foot putter. If there’s a yardage or pin placement you don’t like, you can afford to play a little safer and know you’re going to make par. It made it stress-free.
“My putting has been just a little off, not that I’ve been putting badly, but I haven’t been making a lot of things and it seemed like, for whatever reason, I found a nice touch this week. I like to play more break than most players and I seemed to have a really good touch.”
Carding a pair of birdies on each of his nines, Israelson opened the championship with a bogey-free 68 Tuesday and carried a two-stroke margin over Brischke when the second round began Wednesday.
Claiming he’s been more competitive since switching drivers a year ago, Israelson’s final round got off to an auspicious start—thanks to his driver.
“The funny thing about it is I popped up my drive on the first hole and the only reason it went 200 yards is because it hit the cart path,” Israelson said. “Then I hit a good layup and an okay iron because the pin was way back and made a nice 35-footer for birdie. That set the tempo for the day.
“Then I could be a little more patient and hit greens, keep the ball on the right sides of the hole and didn’t have to take any chances. I was really aggressive off the tee here—there are some fairway bunkers and I took them out and really had control of my driver. I was pushing my ball up there on some holes so I had a sand wedge in and that’s the other strength in my game—my short irons.”
Israelson rolled in a 10-footer on the second hole to increase his lead over Brischke and would turn with a four-stroke advantage before settling in during his final nine holes.
Sinking a pair of 10-footers at the 10th and 12th holes, Israelson distanced himself from the field, taking a six-stroke lead to the 14th, where he drilled his birdie putt from 30 feet to move to 9-under for the championship.
Following his fourth birdie in a six-hole span to begin his back nine Wednesday, Israelson’s only blemish came at the par-5 17th, where he pulled his second shot behind a tree, forcing him to pitch to the left side of the green, leading to a three-putt bogey.
Narrowly missing his birdie chance from 12 feet on the final hole, Israelson tapped in for par to claim the championship at 9-under 135.
“I really played flawless on the back nine, other than getting a bad break at [No. 17]. I almost knocked it on in two. For me, [560 yards] to get to a par-5 when it’s kind of wet out—I was surprised I got that far up,” Israelson said. “Unfortunately, there was one tree there and I had to pitch around it.
“I hit a lot of greens; I missed maybe two greens all week and all 18 today. Especially if you get out in the lead, start hitting greens and let the other guys make some plays. I hit some really nice short irons on the back side and got rolling.”
Winning the championship more than anyone in the tournament’s 45-year history, Israelson deflected Wednesday, contending that there are some things more enjoyable than hoisting trophies.
“The real enjoyable thing—I hadn’t played with Jim Kidd, who I played junior golf against when I was winning [MGA Amateur tournaments] and his dad was the pro at Interlachen, for years,” he said. “You start seeing those relationships in golf that last 40-50 years. It was fun to play with him and I had a great group again today. I played with [Brischke] two rounds, he’s always fun to play with and we’ve battled a number of times. George Smith is a heck of a senior player, too.”
Joining Israelson at the national championship in October will be Brischke and Smith (who finished tied for second at 2-under 144), Don Berry, Mike Barge and Larry Norland. Norland birdied his first playoff hole to earn the final qualifying position.
6,570 YARDS, PAR 72
1. Bill Israelson, Vintage GC, 68-67—135 (medalist)
T2. Craig Brischke, Tanners Brook GC, 70-72—142 (qualifier)
T2. George Smith, Club Champion, 71-71—142 (qualifier)
4. Don Berry, Edinburgh USA, 73-70—143 (qualifier)
5. Mike Barge, Hazeltine Nat’l GC, 77-68—145 (qualifier)
T6. Larry Norland, Greenhaven GC, 77-69—146 (qualifier)
T6. Matt Vandelac, Unattached, 73-73—146
T8. Daniel Callahan, Island View GC, 74-73—147
T8. Mike Flaherty, Dakota Pines GC, 73-74—147
T10. Scott Dirck, Geneva GC, 76-72—148
T10. Dale Jones, Mendakota CC, 76-72—148
For complete tournament results go to:  https://mnpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/mnpga19/event/mnpga1926/contest/1/leaderboard.htm


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