Minnesota Golf Association

Norland and Jones to Face Off in Finals of Minnesota PGA Senior Match Play

October 11, 2017


By Nick Hunter
nick@mngolf.org


  MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. – In his first year eligible as a senior professional golfer in 2016, Larry Norland advanced to the semifinal round of the Minnesota PGA Senior Match Play Championship at Stillwater Country Club, exiting following a 2 and 1 loss to Dale Jones.

Defeating University of Minnesota assistant women’s golf coach John Cleary during Wednesday’s semifinal round at Somerset Country Club, Norland put himself in position to collect his first victory in the 50-and-over events, but will have to get past Jones in the finals.

“I played pretty good today and my ball striking was awesome both rounds,” Norland said after advancing to the final match Wednesday. “I putted a little better this afternoon—my distance control was a little better and that helped quite a bit. The greens are so good and so fast that if you get inside of eight or 10 feet, you feel like you should make it. I think I had two or three three-putts the first 18 and only had one during the [semifinals].”

Earning a first-round bye as the No. 8 seed this week, Norland downed Peter Krause during the second round Tuesday before earning a slim, 2 and 1 victory over Jeff Otto during the quarterfinals Wednesday.

Facing Cleary in the semifinals Wednesday, Norland took advantage of the par-3’s by rolling in his birdie look from 15 feet at the seventh and would extend his lead to 2-up heading to the final nine holes.

Sticking his tee to 10 feet at the 11th, Norland again converted birdie, but would trade blows with Cleary early on the back nine as Norland carried a 1-up lead to the par-5 16th.

Finding the right side of the doglegged fairway, Norland hit the shot of the tournament thus far, curving his second shot from 262 yards up and onto the green, stopping four feet below the hole for a remarkable eagle chance.

Cleary couldn’t get his birdie putt from 10 feet above the hole to fall and conceded Norland’s eagle putt before the two traded par on the 17th, giving Norland a 2 and 1 victory, and a spot in the finals against Jones.

“After I hit the second shot to three or four feet, I knew I was most likely going to win the hole and going up two with two to play, and if you don’t do something stupid, you should be able to make at least one par and pull it out,” Norland said of taking a 2-up lead with an eagle late.

“I was trying to make sure I cut it enough because I didn’t want to be left of the green and just trying to make solid contact. I knew if I hit it good that I had a chance to get it on, but never thought it would get that close.”

In 15 events this season, Norland has collected eight top-25 finishes, including a sixth-place finish at the Head Pro Championship at Medina Golf and Country Club in July.

“This is such a beautiful place; it’s so much fun to play that I think it makes it easy to play good,” Norland said of conditions at Somerset this week. “It’s such a good, solid golf course and it fits my game. Tomorrow I need to make more birdies.

“This year’s been okay. I had a couple really good one day of a two-day event. At 52 I can still hit it a little bit, so it’s fun.”

Getting past Jones during Thursday’s championship match will be a tall order as Jones has more experience at Somerset than most of the field collectively. Jones grew up in a house not far off the 11th hole and worked at the club for a number of years before and after becoming a professional golfer.

“I grew up across the street and started caddying in 1970,” Jones said. “In 1974 I started working in the golf shop, so I’ve caddied here and was assistant pro here for five years.”

Finishing as runner-up a year ago, Jones also has an ax to grind as he searches for his first win at the event. He earned a first-round bye as the No. 6 seed and edged Steve Fessler, 1-up, Tuesday before getting past Craig Brischke, 3 and 2, early Wednesday to reach the semifinals against 2014 champion Dave Nordeen.

Jones saw his early lead evaporate following a pair of bogeys at the third and fourth holes and would remain one down to Nordeen at the turn.

Showcasing a strong iron game late Wednesday, Jones stuck his approach at the par-4 10th inside of five feet and converted birdie to draw even with Nordeen. Wedging his third from the left rough at the par-5 12th, Jones’ ball rolled eight feet past the cup and after his birdie putt fell, he took his second lead of the match with six holes to play.

Extending his lead to 2-up following a Nordeen bogey at the 13th, a three-putt for bogey by Jones at the 14th cut his lead in half. He responded by hitting his tee shot at the 218-yard, par-3 15th inside of a foot behind the cup for an easy birdie to regain a 2-up lead.

Nordeen bounced by carding birdie at the 16th after missing his eagle putt from 20 feet, but Jones again put his approach inside of two feet at the 17th for a tap-in birdie to close out the match, 2 and 1.

“This morning I played great—I made a million birdies. At one stretch on the back nine I was 4-under and [Craig Brischke] was 2-under when I closed him out,” Jones said Wednesday.

“This afternoon I drove it all over the place, but made some nice birdies and pars. I’ve had some good iron play, but I think tomorrow will take solid ball striking and making some putts. It’s a good test of golf—the greens are rolling really nice and you have to be careful because I think they’re rolling about 12.”

The final match of the 2017 Minnesota PGA Senior Match Play Championship is slated to begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at Somerset Country Club.



2017 MINNESOTA PGA SENIOR MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
SOMERSET COUNTRY CLUB
MENDOTA HEIGHTS, MINN.
6,429 YARDS, PAR 72


WEDNESDAY’S SEMIFINAL RESULTS

Larry Norland, Greenhaven GC, def. John Cleary, University GC, 2 and 1
Dale Jones, Mendakota CC, def. Dave Nordeen, Northern Hills GC, 2 and 1


WEDNESDAY’S QUARTERFINAL ROUND
Larry Norland, Greenhaven GC, def. Jeff Otto, Lafayette Club, 2 and 1
John Cleary, University GC, def. Brad Schmierer, Dakota Pines GC, 2-up
Dave Nordeen, Northern Hills GC, def. Matt Vandelac, Unattached, 5 and 4
Dale Jones, Mendakota CC, def. Craig Brischke, Tanners Brook GC, 3 and 2

TUESDAY’S SECOND ROUND RESULTS
Jeff Otto, Lafayette Club, def. Steve Whillock, Oak Marsh GC, 1-up
Larry Norland, Greenhaven GC, def. Peter Krause, Edinburgh USA, 3 and 2
Brad Schmierer, Dakota Pines GC, def. Dave DuSchane, Somerset CC, 5 and 3
John Cleary, University GC, def. Bob Miller, Minnewaska GC, 3 and 2
Dave Nordeen, Northern Hills GC, def. Don Berry, Edinburgh USA, 1-up
Matt Vandelac, Unattached, def. Mike Flaherty, Dakota Pines GC, 3 and 2
Craig Brischke, Tanners Brook GC, def. David Richardson, Soldier Mem. Field, 5 and 4
Dale Jones, Mendakota CC, def. Steve Fessler, Medina G&CC, 1-up


TUESDAY’SFIRST ROUND RESULTS
Steve Whillock, Oak Marsh GC, BYE
Jeff Otto, Lafayette Club, def. Daniel Callahan, Island View GC, 1-up
Larry Norland, Greenhaven GC, BYE
Peter Krause, Edinburgh USA, BYE
Brad Schmierer, Dakota Pines GC, BYE
Dave DuSchane, Somerset CC, def. Roger Fahrenkrug, Braemar GC, 2 and 1
John Cleary, University GC, BYE
Bob Miller, Minnewaska GC, BYE
Don Berry, Edinburgh USA, BYE
Dave Nordeen, Northern Hills GC, def. Mark Carlson, Nemadji GC, 2-up
Mike Flaherty, Dakota Pines GC, BYE
Matt Vandelac, Unattached, BYE
Craig Brischke, Tanners Brook GC, BYE
David Richardson, Soldier Mem. Field, def. Ed Bialek, Oak Ridge GC, 2 and 1
Dale Jones, Mendakota CC, BYE
Steve Fessler, Medina G&CC, BYE

 


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