Minnesota Golf Association

Miller Rallies to Tie, Wins Tapemark in Playoff

June 11, 2018

By Mike Fermoye (mikefermoyle@gmail.com)

WEST ST. PAUL -- As he began his final nine holes in the 2018 Tapemark Charity Pro-Am at Southview Country Club on Sunday, Ross Miller was five strokes out of the lead and just hoping to make a run at second place. 

Four birdies in the next six holes altered the goal. Suddenly, he was in the hunt for first. Two pars later, he was running out of time, but then he hit exactly the shot he needed, a 60-degree wedge from 80 yards to within a foot of the cup at the 270-yard, par-4 ninth (the leaders started on the back nine Sunday and finished on No. 9). That capped off a 4-under-par 67 and gave Miller a 54-hole aggregate of 202 (minus 11). 

He still needed some help, and he got it when the tournament leader, Robert Bell, pulled a wedge shot left of the ninth green and made a bogey. 

That bogey created a three-way tie among Bell, Miller and seven-time Tapemark champ Don Berry, thus forcing a playoff, and about 50 minutes later Miller emerged with the victory -- and $6,000. 

The 25-year-old former Minnesota State-Mankato star (he was the NSIC Player of the Year in 2014) won the playoff with a par on the fourth hole of overtime, No. 13, a 151-yard par-3. 

Berry, who closed with a 69, was eliminated on the second extra hole, the 380-yard, par-4 11th. He pulled his tee shot into the left rough, then hit a tree with his second and ended up two-putting from 25 feet for a bogey. 

Miller missed 20-footers for birdie on each of the first two bonus holes. On the third playoff hole, No. 12 (350 yards, par 4), he thinned a wedge over the green. He needed a good chip shot and a 4-foot putt to get his par.

Bell, who shot 71 on Sunday, saved par from left of the green on the first extra hole (the 175-yard, par-3 10th). He two-putted from 25 feet at the next and chipped to 3 feet at the 12th, after his wedge shot landed 5 feet onto the green but backed off into the rough in front of the green. Eventually, Bell couldn't save his par at the 13th, where he pulled his tee shot left of the green and ran his chip/pitch shot 14 feet past the cup. For the third time in four playoff holes, Miller two-putted from 20 feet at No. 13 to claim the crown. 

Berry and Bell made $2,142.50 each as their shares for joint second place. (In case of a playoff, all of the participants who don't win, no matter how many there are, or where they're eliminated, tie for second.)

It rained each of the first two days of the Tapemark, a little on Friday and a lot on Saturday. On Sunday, the rain stayed away, but the wind was blowing from the East at 12 to 15 miles per hour, which helped Miller get his last-nine rally started with a 325-yard drive at No. 1 (355 yards, par 4). From there, he pitched to 5 feet and made the putt. No. 3 was also downwind, and Miller made a 12-footer for birdie.

His tee shot at the 470-yard, par-5 fourth went a mere 265 yards, but he hit a gorgeous 4-iron second shot to 25 feet and two-putted for a birdie from there. With the wind behind him again at the 476-yard sixth, he launched another 300-yard bomb. An 8-iron set up another two-putt for birdie from 25 feet -- and now he was in contention. 

"At that point, I knew I had a chance," he said afterward. "But you can really only take what the course gives you out here. I didn't birdie the seventh (370, par 4) and the eighth (375, par 4) isn't really a birdie hole, because you have that blind second shot. Fortunately, I hit a great shot at 9 and had a tap-in for my birdie." 

Berry, 56, the head pro at Edinburgh USA, was the main pursuer of Bell for most of the round. He hit a couple of uncharacteristically poor chips at the 17th and 18th holes, both par-5's. He made an 8-foot putt for a 4 at the 17th but  and failed to birdie the 18th. Another less-than-stellar chip a the 166-yard, par-3 second hole led to a bogey, which dropped him three behind Bell. But Bell, playing in the last group, flew the green at No. 2. He hit an impressive flop shot from about 8 yards behind the green, but he lipped out a 4-foot putt for par. 

Up ahead, Berry stiffed his second shot at the third hole, and was back within a stroke of Bell. Bell's tee shot at No. 3 was prodigious, roughly 310 yards, but it ended up under a pine tree, and he would go on to three-putt the green for his second consecutive bogey. That created a tie with Berry, but Bell pulled ahead once again with a birdie at the par-5 fourth. His pulled his tee shot, and had to hit a 180-yard hook around a tree from a downhill lie in the rough, which he did, to 25 feet, and he two-putted from there.

Despite hitting his tee shot into the left rough, where he was partially blocked by a tree, Berry was able to birdie the par-5 sixth with a wedge to 5 feet. Bell made it look easier, hitting an 8-iron second shot to 30 feet and two-putting from there to restore his one-stroke advantage.

It all came down to the ninth hole. Bell hit a mid-iron into the dead center of the fairway, and had 100 yards to the green.

"I knew that all I had to do was hit the green and two-putt," he lamented. "I was aiming for the middle of the green." 

But the ball was above his feet, a classic hook lie. The ball took off at the left edge of the green, and the wind took it from there. He ended up 10 yards left of the green in a less-than-great lie. His flop shot came up a few feet short of the green, and he needed a good chip just to salvage a bogey.  

"I played really well," Bell said. "I gave away a couple of strokes early on the front nine, but I got the lead back with those birdies at the fourth and the sixth. I just made a bad swing at the wrong time at No. 9." 

Bell, 27, has won three times on the Pepsi Tour in Arizona, but that tour, like most mini-tours in recent years, is suffering from diminishing returns. 

"Basically, you have to finish in the top three just to get your money back," Bell noted. 

He plans to play in the Waterloo Open in July and also try to qualify for the John Deere Classic, a PGA Tour event. After that, he'll play in as many Dakotas Tour events as he can, and he'll take another crack at Web.com Q-School in the fall.

The $6,000 that Miller made will come in handy. He wants to play on the Dakotas Tour, which runs from late July to early September, but those events are filling up, and Miller hasn't entered any of them.

"I didn't have the money," he explained Sunday.  "Now that problem is solved. At least partially, anyway."  

In the Women's Division, there was also a playoff after two former LPGA Tour players -- Martha Nause and Julie Hennessy -- tied for first with 72's. Nause claimed the victory on the second extra hole.

Women were added to the Tapemark in 2012, and the 63-year-old Nause has won four times since then. She won three times during the two decades  that she was on the LPGA Tour, including one major, the 1994 du Maurier Classic. 


Tapemark Charity Pro-Am

At Southview Country Club

Par 71, 3,134 yards

West St. Paul

Men's Division


Final results

1. Ross Miller, Dellwood CC                    $6,000     69-66-67--202

2. Robert Bell, Pierz G&CC                     $2,143     66-65-71--202

3. Don Berry, Edinburgh USA                  $2,143     65-68-69--202

4. Jeff Sorenson, The Minikahda Club    $1,300     68-67-69--204

5. Brent Snyder, Troy Burne GC             $1,125     67-68-70--205

6. Donald Constable, Spring Hill                $995      72-70-65--207

7. Corey Johnson, 2nd Swing Golf            $870       69-69-70--208

T8. Eric Chiles, Chaska TC                       $635       69-72-68--209

T8. Chris Meyer, Southview CC                $635       65-72-72--209

T8. Jon Trasamar, Hawks Landing GC     $635       71-70-68--209

11. Thomas Campbell, Bolstad/Univ. GC $470       71-69-70--210

T12. Kris Kroetsch, Fargo CC                  $395        71-69-71--211

T12. Eric Rolland, Augsburg Univ.            $395       71-69-71--211

T12. Derek Stendahl, Rush Creek GC      $395       67-71-73--211


1. Scott Fenwick, Southview CC                           69-68-69--206

2. Nathan Proshek, Ridges at Sand Creek           71-70-72--213

3. Sean Barrett, Dellwood CC                               73-71-72--216

Women's Division

1. Martha Nause, Mendakota CC         $1,000             72  (won playoff on 2nd extra hole)

2. Julie Hennessy, Cedar Valley GC        $500              72        
3. Karen Davies, Pinnacle Peak (Ariz.)    $400              73

4. Angela Ause, Oak Marsh GC               $300              76

5. Sara Detlefsen, Somerby GC               $200              78


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