Minnesota Golf Association

Lehman One Step Closer to Fourth MGA Senior Amateur Title

September 18, 2018

By Nick Hunter
  BEMIDJI, Minn. – Eyeing a fourth Minnesota Golf Association Senior Amateur title since 2013, Jim Lehman carded a 1-over par 73 Tuesday to take a slim, one-shot margin over Mark Knutson to the final round Wednesday at Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Lehman shared the 36-hole lead at Bearpath Golf and Country Club in 2013, edging David Kokesh for his first win at the event. A year later Lehman entered the final round three shots back before edging Knutson to successfully defend his title at Somerset Country Club.
The two-time MGA Men’s Senior Player of the Year took a two-stroke lead to the final round of the 2016 championship, cruising to an 11-stroke victory by carding a final round 5-under par 68 at Golden Valley Golf and Country Club to claim his third tournament win.
In a similar position Tuesday, Lehman insists he’d prefer to be one who’s being chased rather than playing from behind.
“I enjoy playing with the lead—I think it keeps me focused. I’m playing well, I’m swinging well and hitting the ball straight,” Lehman said Tuesday. “I’m going to keep on hitting fairways and greens. Mark Knutson and a bunch of other guys right behind me are good players, so I’ve got to be aggressive and it’s going to be great fun.
“I played solid today. I just made a couple of errors in judgement on club selection and a couple three-putts,” Lehman said Tuesday. “I made four errors that were disappointing, but take away two of those and I would’ve shot under par.”
Turning at 2-over par with a pair of bogeys on his front nine Tuesday, Lehman said he needed to make something happen over the inward nine. “I was thinking that I needed to get more aggressive and make a couple of birdies, which I did. I was excited about making two good swings to make par on 18, so I feel good about going into tomorrow.”
Lehman, a member at Windsong Farm, chipped in for birdie at the par-3 11th to get back to 1-over for the round before bouncing his chip off the flagstick at the 15th for an easy tap-in birdie to pull even for the round.
Hitting the wrong club at the 16th, Lehman left his approach short in a greenside bunker where he was unable to get up-and-down to save par and would finish with a second round 73 to maintain a one-stroke advantage over the field
Knutson won the championship in 2012 at Northland Country Club and has a number of close calls since, finishing fifth in 2013, second in 2014 and sixth in 2015. After posting a 2-over par 74 to open the championship Monday, Knutson charged back by carding one of six rounds of 2-under par 70 in the field Tuesday to sit one stroke back of the lead with one round to play.
“I played better than yesterday,” Knutson joked after his round Tuesday. “The putter was solid—I three-putted [No. 3], but that wasn’t the putter’s fault.
“[Lehman] and I were talking on the range today and I knew I had to play well to hang in there with him because we love playing on Wednesday’s together at this event. Tomorrow I’d love to hit it just like I did today. I’ve never played here before so understanding the greens and where to hit it and how they run away from you—I was better at that today.”
Taking an early bogey at the third hole Tuesday, Knutson answered by sinking his birdie putt from five feet at the par-5 eighth and would turn at even par for the round.
Knutson felt his round got started on the back nine after sinking his birdie look at the 10th hole despite mishitting a hybrid, which left his approach on the fringe in two. Nearly sinking birdie at the 11th, Knutson dropped an 8-footer for birdie at the 12th to move to even par for the championship. Finishing the day with consecutive pars, Knutson will enter Wednesday’s final round one shot of Lehman.
“I was hitting golf shots and hitting it solid and then I thought, ‘This is working,’” Knutson said. “I putted solid and on the back nine hit it to 15 feet about seven times and made a great couple of two-putts.”
Scott Hogan, the 2016 MPGA Senior Public Links champion, carded a second round 72 Tuesday and will begin Wednesday’s final round in third place at 1-over 145, two shots off the lead.
The 2018 MGA Senior Amateur Championship concludes Wednesday with final round tee times beginning at 8:10 a.m. at Bemidji Town and Country Club.
6,498 YARDS, PAR 72
1. Jim Lehman, Windsong Farm, 70-73—143
2. Mark Knutson, Hazeltine Nat’l GC, 74-70—144
3. Scott Hogan, Cannon GC, 73-72—145
T4. Doug Taylor, Headwaters CC, 75-71—146
T4. John Spreiter, Litchfield GC, 75-71—146
T6. Leif Carlson, Valleywood GC, 77-70—147
T6. Dave Haslerud, Southview CC, 77-70—147
T8. John Anderson, Bunker Hills GC, 78-70—148
T8. Steve Herzog, Alexandria GC, 74-74—148
T10. James Ryan, Hazeltine Nat’l GC, 73-79—149
T10. J.T. Johnson, Olympic Hills GC, 76-73—149
T10. Bob Neuberger, Rush Creek GC, 79-70—149
T10. Bob Cavanagh, Perham Lakeside GC, 77-72—149
1. David Haugan, Hiawatha GC, 74-76—150
2. Mike Howell, Village Green GC, 80-79—159
3. Dennis Haugan, Hiawatha GC, 80-82—162
4. R.J. Smiley, Braemar GC, 82-81—163
5. Bob Ostlund, Tianna CC, 94-87—181
6. Jack Rice, Woodhill CC, 91-95—186

Download Full Results: 97th MGA Senior Amateur Championship Results - media.pdf

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