Minnesota Golf Association

Pulling Away with a 66, Peterson Seeks Fourth MGA Mid-Amateur Win in Five Seasons

August 30, 2021

 
By Nick Hunter
nick@mngolf.org
 
 
  WILLMAR, Minn. – A tap-in eagle along with two birdies early during his back nine Monday helped three-time champion Trent Peterson to a round of 6-under 66 at Eagle Creek Golf Club, moving closer to his fourth Minnesota Golf Association Mid-Amateur title over the past five seasons.
 
“I hit my driver great, kept it between the trees and always had a shot at the green,” Peterson said Monday. “I putted well, made some good birdie putts and some putts to save par. I kept the ball below the hole and didn’t make many mistakes.”
 
Peterson is coming off a victory at the Minnesota Public Golf Association State Public Links Championship last week at Pebble Creek Golf Club for the 30th state win of his career. He’ll take a four-stroke lead over Ryan Conn, 2019 champion Justin Burleson and two-time champion Troy Johnson when the final round begins Tuesday.  
 
"I’m not going to complain,” said Peterson of his cushion over the field. “I have a really bad memory, so I can’t remember the last time I had a big, final-round lead to start. It’s not going to hurt anything.
 
“We still have 18 holes to play. They’re going to make birdies out here tomorrow and I’m going to have to make birdies. I just have to minimize mistakes and make them catch me, not come back to them.”
 
Peterson opened the championship with a round of 1-under 71 Sunday despite writing three bogeys and a double-bogey on his scorecard.
 
“I played just as good today as I did yesterday, I just had never played [Little Crow Country Club] before and it got me in a little trouble when I four-putted [No. 16] and laid up into the water on the next hole. That’s three shots right there—otherwise I played fine."
 
Hitting his 6-iron to four feet at the par-3 second, Peterson converted his first birdie chance of the day, and would two-putt for birdie at the fourth to get to 3-under for the championship. His bogey at the fifth was nullified by a birdie at the sixth, dropping his putt from 18 feet to turn in 3-under.
 
Peterson left himself with a tap-in eagle at the par-4 11th hole to kick-start his bogey-free back nine Monday and moving to 5-under for the tournament.
 
“It was [250 yards] to the pin, downhill, and we had a little wait, so I was going back-and-forth between driver and 3-wood,” he said. “[Eric Rislove] went first and hit 3-wood on the green, so I thought I’d rip a 3-wood. I aimed right and figured if it went straight, fine, or if it draws, fine.
 
“It was kind of a hard draw, but it landed short and rolled up to eight inches. We thought it went in because it finished behind the hole.”
 
The three-time MGA Men’s Player of the Year followed up his eagle with a second tap-in at the 12th, hitting his approach inside of two feet for his fourth birdie of the round before getting up-and-down for birdie at the 13th to get to 7-under. Finishing his round with five consecutive pars, Peterson’s round of 66 put him on top of the leaderboard at 137.
 
Peterson’s one-stroke victory last season at Northland Country Club tied him with Sammy Schmitz and John Spreiter for the second most wins at the championship with three, while John Harris stands as the winningest player in tournament history, collecting five wins, including three straight from 1990-1992.
 
Conn, who owns an MGA Amateur Four-Ball title and finished runner-up at the MGA Players’ Championship last season, carried momentum from his runner-up finish last week at the MPGA State Public Links, shooting a 4-under 68 at Little Crow Country Club to put himself into contention once again.
 
“Yesterday was a tough round. I birdied two of my last three and I think that shifted momentum and I got off to a great start today,” said Conn, who birdied four consecutive holes early during his second round. “I hung in there all day—I was happy. Four in a row to start and then missed a couple opportunities.”
 
Playing his front nine in 4-under, thanks to his string of early birdies, Conn carded one bogey during his final nine holes, but would sink a 15-footer at the last to earn a share of second place with Burleson and Johnson at 3-under 141.
 
“My putting has been decent, but I’ve just taken what the course has given me,” said Conn, who has three top-5 finishes this season. “I’ve been keeping the ball in play for the most part and, for me, the quicker I get the ball on the green, the better.”
 
Grabbing a share of the 18-hole lead Sunday with a 3-under 69, Burleson turned in 1-under during his second round Monday before a lone bogey over his final nine holes put him in the clubhouse at 3-under for the tournament.
 
“I struggled with the swing a little bit today, but the short game was good,” Burleson said Monday. “I left two of them above the hole and three-putted twice. I didn’t hit a green for five holes and I was 1-under.
 
“Never was in any trouble, but didn’t hit any wedges really close. You had to be defensive, so I’ve got to tighten it up tomorrow. I’ve got to hit my irons better. You can’t leave yourself 30 feet when you’ve got 100 yards in—you’ve got to hit it closer.”
 
Johnson, winner of the event in 2010 and again in 2014, carded one birdie against one bogey during his front nine Monday to turn in 3-under for the championship, and would reciprocate his score on the back, taking bogey at the 12th before drawing even for the round with a birdie at the 14th.
 
Johnson claimed his fourth MGA Mid-Players’ Championship earlier this season at Giants Ridge, hoisting the championship trophy for the first time in seven seasons.
 
The final round of the 34th MGA Mid-Amateur Championship is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. at Eagle Creek Golf Club.
 
 
 


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