Newly Crowned MGA Senior Men's POY Rose to Face Newcomer Gregory for Senior Players' Title
September 29, 2020
By Nick Hunter
CANNON FALLS, Minn. – On Monday, Jerry Rose solidified his fourth consecutive Minnesota Golf Association Senior Men’s Player of the Year award by earning a pair of victories to begin the 21st MGA Senior Players’ Championship at Cannon Golf Club.
Rose ousted both Jeff Teal and John Anderson Tuesday to reach Wednesday’s championship match and now is looking for his first win of the season and second Senior Players’ title since 2017.
“Any time you can be up there at the top and be considered one of the better players in the state, you’ve got to feel good about that,” Rose said Tuesday. “There are so many great players in the state, so I’m pretty excited.
“Today I struggled a little bit and just didn’t feel as good swinging the club, so it was a lot harder work to hang in there. In match play you’re just trying not to give away too many holes. I hung in there well today and was fortunate enough at the end to hit a good shot when it counted.”
Standing in Rose’s way Wednesday is Jay Gregory, who eliminated Bruce Hegland early Tuesday before dispatching 2019 runner-up Tom Whaley with a birdie on the final hole to reach the finals in his first appearance at the event.
“I’ve never played with [Gregory] but I know he’s a good player and I hope we both play well and have a good match,” said Rose. “You’ve just got to play solid golf, make a few birdies and eliminate the mistakes. When you get the chance, you’ve got to roll some putts in.”
Rose birdied two of his first three holes to jump out to the early lead against Teal during Tuesday’s quarterfinal round before allowing Teal back into the match with back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth holes and a double-bogey at the seventh.
Trailing Teal by one through 10 holes, Rose again rattled off two birdies over a three-hole span to swing momentum back in his favor and would hang on to win, advancing to the semifinal round.
Falling behind Anderson during his front nine Tuesday, Rose dropped his birdie chance from four feet at the 11th before Anderson answered with a birdie at the 13th. Rose tied the match when his birdie putt fell at the par-4 14th and the two remained deadlocked for the last four holes of regulation.
On the first playoff hole, Anderson failed to convert his birdie chance from 15 feet, while Rose tapped in a three-footer to earn a spot in the championship match for the third time in four seasons.
“Neither one of us had our best stuff, we didn’t particularly score that great, but we had a good match,” Rose said of his semifinal match against Anderson, “It was nip and tuck all the way around.”
Over the better part of the last decade, Rose has consistently been one of the state’s top players, both locally and on the national scene. He won the 2019 MGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Jim Lehman at Windsong Farm for his most recent state victory.
Rose downed Leif Carlson to win the 2017 Senior Players’ Championship at St. Cloud Country Club and would fall to David Rehfeldt in the finals the following year at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club. Entering the final event of the season this week, the soon-to-be 62-year-old Rose has collected 15 top-10 finishes over the past four years.
In 2018, Rose advanced to the quarterfinal round of the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore., falling to Iowa’s Michael McCoy, 3 and 2.
“I felt like I’ve had a good year and played well, I just didn’t get a lot out of my rounds,” Rose lamented Tuesday. “I made some mistakes at inappropriate times and felt like I got as much as I should’ve out of my rounds. When you feel like you’re hitting the ball well and then throw a few shots away with mistakes is frustrating.”
Rose's latest feat ties the late Loyal 'Bud' Chapman as the only Minnesota golfers to claim four MGA Senior Men's Player of the Year nods.
Gregory, who made his state debut two weeks ago at the MGA Senior Amateur at Burl Oaks Golf Club where he finished third, enters the week ranked 12th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and brings with him momentum from last week’s win at the Missouri Senior Amateur Championship.
“It definitely helps confidence and golf is all about confidence, but it can leave you as fast as you got it,” he said.
Gregory’s win at the Missouri Senior Amateur last week is his second in four years as he adds another win to his golf resume, which also includes: back-to-back wins at the Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championship, the Iowa Senior Masters and the Kansas City Match Play Championship. As an amateur, he qualified for the U.S. Senior Open last year in South Bend, Ind., but would miss the cut.
A pair of early birdies helped the 55-year-old southern Iowa native build a quick lead over Bruce Hegland during Tuesday’s quarterfinal round before Gregory extended his lead to four with a birdie at the 13th. Stepping back with a bogey at the 14th, Gregory closed out the match with a birdie at the 15th to earn the victory, 5 and 4.
Early mistakes and a fast start by Whaley to open the semifinal round put Gregory in a precarious position, trailing by four after just eight holes.
“[Whaley] played really well and I missed three putts inside of four feet in the first nine holes and just dug myself a hole,” Gregory said. “I knew the parking lot wasn’t far away.”
Gregory answered by sticking his approach close at the par-4 10th and would then take advantage of back-to-back bogeys by Whaley at the 12th and 13th holes to pull within one shot of the lead.
Whaley conceded another short birdie chance for Gregory at the par-4 16th as the two remained tied heading to the 18th tee. After Whaley missed a 12-footer for birdie, Gregory sank a 6-footer from below the hole to claim a comeback win to advance to the final match against Rose Wednesday.
The final match of the 21st MGA Senior Players’ Championship is slated to begin at 8 a.m. Wednesday at Cannon Golf Club.