Minnesota Golf Association

Johnson Goes Wire-to-wire for Second MPGA Mid Public Links Win

June 13, 2021

 
By Nick Hunter
nick@mngolf.org
 
 
  ANOKA, Minn. – After two close calls to begin the 2021 golf season, Joel B. Johnson carded a 2-over 73 Sunday at Green Haven Golf Course to hold off Chris Tollefsrud for a two-stroke victory at the 17th Minnesota Public Golf Association Mid Public Links Championship.
 
Johnson notched a top-5 finish to begin the year at the inaugural Twin Cities Open last month at Tanners Brook Golf Club before a second-place finish in his first appearance at the Minnesota Senior Open two weeks ago at Keller Golf Course.
 
Opening the championship with a 67 Saturday, where he shot 6-under during his final six holes to climb to the top of the leaderboard, Johnson played a steady final nine holes for the second consecutive round Sunday to earn his first state win since 2019 and his second MPGA Mid Public Links Championship title.
 
“Yesterday was a great finish for sure. That won me the tournament, those six holes,” Johnson said Sunday. “The game’s good right now and I finally got it done. It’s always fun to win because you just never know. You really just have to keep grinding and see what happens.”
 
Johnson’s one-stroke lead was quickly erased Sunday when he bogeyed the opening two holes for the second straight day, but he would rebound with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 fourth hole, taking a three-stroke lead following a string of bogeys by Tollefsrud.
 
Back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth holes saw Johnson’s lead dwindle to one before a second tap-in birdie at the par-5 seventh. Johnson gave back a stroke at the eighth, but extended his lead to two over Tollefsrud by drilling his birdie putt from 30 feet at the ninth.
 
Leading by just one following a bogey at the 11th, Johnson watched his lead vanish after Tollefsrud drove the 12th green and dropped his birdie putt from 15 feet. Momentum quickly shifted on the ensuing hole when Tollefsrud’s tee shot went out of bounds right of the 13th fairway, leading to double-bogey.
 
Johnson sank a critical 4-footer to save par at the par-3 17th and would two-putt the final hole to earn a two-stroke victory at 2-under 140.
 
“I tried not to do anything different today and just play golf,” Johnson said. “[Tollefsrud] is a solid player and he played really well.
 
“The par at 17 was a big hole to keep me up by two. “Wow, was that a tough hole.”
 
Johnson’s first state victory came at the Minnesota Golf Association Amateur Four-Ball Championship, partnering with Curt Carbaugh to win at Hillcrest Country Club in 2008. Johnson then claimed his first individual state win in 2010 at the MPGA Mid Public Links at Emerald Green Golf Club.
 
After collecting back-to-back wins at the Loren Krugel Invitational in 2018 and 2019, Johnson’s most recent win came late in 2019 when he won the MPGA Combination Championship with partner Kane Bauer.
 
Tollefsrud’s three birdies during his inward nine during the first round Saturday put him within striking distance of Johnson at 3-under 68 before a string of bogeys put him three shots of the lead quickly Sunday.
 
He would take the lead momentarily at the 12th with an eagle, but a lost tee shot at 13 proved fatal. Tollefsrud pulled within one of the lead at 16, hitting his second from a greenside bunker and converting his 4-footer, but would fall two shots back of Johnson after failing to get up-and-down to save par at the par-3 17th.
 
“Today was a lot of fun—it was a grind and the first time I’ve ever been in this position,” said Tollefsrud, who returned to competitive golf in 2017. “I tried to stay calm the best I could—it took a few holes and a few mistakes, but I grinded it out pretty well.
 
“I just love playing in these MPGA events, the guys are great and it was a great learning lesson all the way around. I hope I grow off of this one. It’s great at 51 years of age to still be competing at this level.”
 
Defending champion Trent Peterson carded the final round’s only score below par Sunday, a 1-under 70 to finish alone in third place at 2-over 144, while Jason Pendleton’s final-round 71 put him in fourth, five strokes off the lead at 3-over 145.
 
 
 
THE 17TH MPGA MID PUBLIC LINKS CHAMPIONSHIP
GREEN HAVEN GOLF COURSE
ANOKA, MINN.
6,306 YARDS, PAR 71
 
 
SUNDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
1. Joel B. Johnson, Links at Northfork, 67-73—140
2. Chris Tollefsrud, Timber Creek GC, 68-74—142
3. Trent Peterson, Fountain Valley GC, 74-70—144
4. Jason Pendleton, Legends Club, 74-71—145
T5. Yarri Bryn, Bunker Hills GC, 74-73—147
T5. Mark Sperling, Willinger’s GC, 74-73—147
T5. Ralph Baxley, Bunker Hills GC, 73-74—147
8. Nick Jarrett, Willow Creek GC, 72-77—149
T9. Nick Gergen, Wirth GC, 77-73—150
T9. Jay Kautt, Legends Club, 75-75—150
T9. Tim Babich, Chaska TC, 75-75—150
 
 
For complete tournament results go to:  www.golfgenius.com/pages/7462576125907065299
 


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