FINAL ROUND RECAP
Angus Flanagan defends his Tapemark Title, Set New Course Record
By Mike Fermoyle
WEST ST. PAUL -- On Saturday afternoon, Angus Flanagan came off the course at Southview Country Club thoroughly frustrated by his putting. He hit 14 of the first 16 greens in regulation during the second round of the Tapemark Minnesota PGA Pro-Am -- and didn't make a single birdie, just 16 pars. Then, finally, he hit the greens in two on the two par-5's at the end of the course, the 490-yard 17th and the 485-yard 18th holes, and two-putted them both for his only birdies of the round.
What should have been a score in the mid-60's had been transformed by a balky putter into a 69, and Flanagan, the defending champion, would end the day in a five-way tie for fifth place at 136, six shots behind the leader, Trey Fessler.
Somebody in the room where the scoring was being done suggested to Flanagan that his fortunes might change Sunday, and maybe his putter would start producing some better results.
That, as it turned out, was exactly what happened.
Starting on the par-3 10th hole, Flanagan two-putted the green for a par. Then his putter went to work.
"I made everything," he said afterward.
He made a 20-footer for birdie on the 11th hole, and an 18-footer at the 12th. In a kind of weird statistical oddity, Flanagan didn't birdie either of the other two par-3's on Southview's back nine, the 13th and the 15th -- but he birdied everything else. The former University of Minnesota All-American made 3's on all of the back-side par-4's (the 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th). And just as he had the day before, he hit the par-5's in two and two-putted them both for birdies.
That capped off a back-nine 29 (6 under) -- and suddenly, he was tied with Fessler for the lead.
Fessler, who was playing with his pro-am partners in a foursome right behind Flanagan, hit a nealy 400-yard drive that left him only 95 yards from the green at the 18th. He hit a wedge close and made the putt for eagle, which put him back in front by two strokes.
But Flanagan continued his assault on par with three birdies and an eagle on the first seven holes of the front nine. He birdied No. 1, his fourth birdie in row, and on No. 4, a 475-yard par 5, he hit a 7-iron second shot to 18 feet, and made the putt for an eagle. Another 7-iron, this one to 15 feet at the 480-yard, par-5 sixth, led to a birdie, and then he made a 12-footer for his ninth birdie of the day at the par-4 seventh.
That got him to 11 under for the round. But he pulled his drive into the trees at the eighth hole (362 yards, par 4), and that led to his only bogey.
Last year, when he made his professional debut at the Tapemark and won the tournament by 10 shots, Flanagan launched a monster 285-yard 3-iron shot off the ninth tee that ended up pin high, 30 feet from the cup, and he two-putted for a closing birdie. This year, the wind was about 10 or 12 miles per hour, and it was in his face at the ninth. A 3-iron wasn't going to be enough this time. It would have to be at least a 3-wood, or probably a driver, if he wanted to go for the green.
"I thought about it, and trying for an eagle -- and a 59," he said later. "But I didn't know exactly how I stood (relative to Fessler), and even if I had known I was three ahead, I probably would have laid up. At that point, the only way I could lose would have been to hit one out of bounds, or into the water."
So he laid up with an iron and settled for a routine par at the ninth, which was still good enough for a course- and tournament-record score of 61 -- and a three-shot victory.
His 54-hole tab of 197 tied the record for lowest 54-hole total, which was set by Jeff Sorenson in 2009 and tied by Don Berry in 2014, and the victory was worth $5,000.
Fessler, who shot 65 each of the first two days, could do no better than a 70 on Sunday, and ended up at 200, which earned him $3,000.
Nearly all of the high finishers took advantage of Southview's relatively short par-5's all weekend. Alex Gaugert was the exception on Sunday. He played them in a modest 1 under in Round 3, yet he still managed to shoot the second-lowest score of the day, a 63. That vaulted him up the leaderboard, from a tie for 14th at the start of the day to solo third, at 201, by the time all the scores were in.
Just as Flanagan had birdied all of the par-4's on the back nine (the Tapemark leaders always start the final round on the back), Gaugert birdied all of the 4's on the front side -- Nos. 1, 3, 7, 8 and 9. But the only par-5 he birdied was No. 17.
Justin Doeden, who had the week off from the Canadian Tour, shot 69 and finished fourth at 202. Matching that total was Gophers head coach Justin Smith, who closed with a 68 and won the Amateur Division by six over Scott Fenwick. Smith's 202 aggregate broke Fenwick's record for the lowest total by an Amateur winner by four strokes.
The 2020 Tapemark winner, Chris Meyer, lit up the back nine with a 5-under 30, but was even on the front. The resultiing 66 put him at 203, which was good for fifth.
Berry, the seven-time Tapemark champion and seven-time Minnesota State Senior Open champ, birdied his last four holes in a row (6 through 9) to conclude a 66, and he tied this year's State Senior Open winner, Derek Stendahl, for sixth at 204. Stendahl shot 67.
Andrew Israelson, who opened the tournament with a 63 to take the first-round lead, knocked his approach shots over the green six times on Saturday and dropped back with a 73. He shot 69 on Sunday and tied Josh Whalen (67) for eighth at 205.
Also noteworthy, even though he didn't crack the top 10, was the valedictory 67 by 67-year-old Mike Barge, who finished alone in 18th place at 210.
In a lot of ways, the final day of this year's Tapemark was a remarkable display of golf. Southview is a short course (6,125 yards), but it isn't easy. The greens were firm all weekend, and if a player got out of position, just making a par could be extremely difficult. In spite of that, and a fairly stiff breeze, the scoring was surprisingly good. But the thing that stood out was the power that was on display.
The first hole at Southview is a 355-yard dogleg to the right. If you want to go at the green, you have to hit your drive over a couple of large trees that are more than 225 yards from the tee. But that didn't seem to discourage the leaders. With the wind at their backs, nearly all of them took a rip at the green.
Justin Smith is a 40-something who played for the Minnesota team that won the NCAA championship two decades ago (he made the clinching putt in 2002), but he still had enough pop in his driver on Sunday to hit the green at No. 1 with his tee shot. Unfortunately for him, he three-putted for a par.
Flanagan put his tee shot in the bunker, and hit his blast to 2 feet for a tap-in birdie. Fessler, like Smith, drove the first green and then three-putted it.
But the thing that really showed what a Brave New World golf has entered into was the sight of Fessler waiting on the third tee for the green to clear -- 370 yards away -- before hitting his drive. He was right to wait. His tee shot ended up no more than 10 or 15 feet short of pin high, but it was 15 yards to the right of the green, and from there he had no chance of getting his ball close to the cup. He wound up missing an 8-foot putt for par.
That bogey dropped him back into a tie with Flanagan, who pulled ahead by two when he made his eagle putt at the fourth a few minutes later. Fessler hit the green at the fourth in two, as well, but he three-putted from 35 feet for a par. Both Flanagan and Fessler made two-putt birdies at the sixth, but Flanagan increased his lead to three with his birdie at the seventh.
Tapemark Minnesota PGA Pro-Am
At Southview Country Club
Par 71, 6,125 yards
West St. Paul
1. Angus Flanagan 67-69-61--197 (-16)
2. Trey Fessler 65-65-70--200
3. Alex Gaugert 70-68-63--201
4. Justin Doeden 66-67-69--202
5. Chris Meyer 67-70-66--203
T6. Don Berry 70-68-66--204
T6. Derek Stendahl 70-67-67--204
T8. Josh Whalen 69-69-67--205
T8. Andrew Israelson 63-73-69--205
T10. Michael Schmitz 69-65-72--206
T10. Thomas Campbell 70-65-71--206
T10. Jack Gustafson 69-67-70--206
T13. Eric Rolland 70-67-70--207
T13. Brent Snyder 66-70-71--207
15. Andy Smith 68-71-69--208
T16. Jeff Sorenson 70-67-72--209
T16. Mike Flaherty 71-69-69--209
T18. Brian Hills 67-69-75--211
T18. Cameron White 67-73-71--211
1. Justin Smith 65-69-68--202
2. Scott Fenwick 70-69-69--208
3. Sam Udovich 67-75-68--210
T4. Jesse Larson 67-73-71--211
T4. Andrew Boemer 68-74-69--211
6. Justin Burleson 71-71-72--214
7. Eric Hayne 73-72-72--217
8. Tyler Wood 72-72--75--219
1. Berry/Irwin/Grausnick/Sullivan 124-121-118--363 (-63)
2. Stendahl/Gillespie/Okey/Wilson 122-121-122--365
3. Israelson/Grove/Anderson/Grove 120-122-128--370
ROUND 2 RECAP
Long-Hitting Trey Fessler Tops the Leaderboard after Round 2
By Mike Fermoyle
WEST ST. PAUL -- At 6,125 yards from the tees they're using this weekend for the Tapemark Minnesota PGA Pro-Am, Southview Country Club can be overpowered, and Trey Fessler was just the guy for that job on Saturday.
The prodigiously long-hitting first-year pro hit three of Southview's four par-5's with wedges, and the other one with a 9-iron, all of which resulted in two eagles and two birdies. He also drove the green on the 389-yard 11th hole on the way to a second consecutive 6-under-par 65, and the subsequent 36-hole total of 130 (12 under) has him three strokes ahead of the field going into Sunday's final round.
Justin Doeden, the former University of Minnesota star who is a regular on the Canadian Tour -- which didn't have a tournament scheduled this week -- put together a 67 that could have been a couple of strokes better. Nevertheless, he's only three behind in second place at 133.
Michael Schmitz, like Fessler, has been a pro for less than a year, and he matched Fessler's 65 on Saturday. He's in third at 134, but he's not alone. Justin Smith, the Gophers head coach, is a reinstated amateur, and he followed a first-round 65 with a 69. So he's also at 134, and he's first among the players not competing for the $5,000 first-place check.
Thomas Campbell, a former Gopher from New Zealand, is another stroke back, in fourth among the pros at 135, after he, too, shot 65, matching the low score of the day.
There is a fivesome tied for fifth at 136, and it includes first-round leader Andrew Israelson and the defending champion, Angus Flanagan. Flanagan kept hitting greens in regulation, "and two-putting them all." He finally made a couple of birdies, but only because he hit the greens at the 490-yard, par-5 17th and 481-yard, par-5 18th in two and two-putted them both for a 69.
Israelson, who turned pro last August, overpowered Southview on Friday to the tune of an 8-under 63. But his power had some negative consequences for him on Saturday, beginning with a 9-iron that he hit over the green on his first hole, the 172-yard, par-3 10th. In what became a pattern, he couldn't get it up and down and made a bogey. He then hit a wedge over the green at the 11th -- and made another bogey.
It was that kind of day for Israelson.
"I kept thinking I was hitting good shots, and they kept going over the greens," he lamented. "And they all ended up this far over (he held his hands 10 inches apart), which is the worst place to be on this course. It's where you get the worst lies."
He made a bogey at 14, from just over the green, but got one shot back when he hit a gap wedge to the 17th and two-putted for birdie. But at the par-5 18th, his gap wedge second shot,which looked great in the air, ended up just over the green -- once again. He couldn't get that one up and down, either. So, having played the hole about as well as he could, he had to settle for a par.
The former All-American Scholar for North Dakota State bogeyed the par-4 first hole from behind the green, but got two back by hitting wedges to the greens at the 470-yard, par-5 fourth and 476-yard, par-5 sixth holes. But one more wedge that went too far resulted in another bogey at the par-4 eighth.
"A 73," he said as he turned in his scorecard. "Ten shots higher than yesterday. But I'm playing pretty well, and I'm not that far back."
Right behind the five players tied for fifth, there are four more tied for 10th at 137, and two former Tapemark champions are in that group -- Chris Meyer (2020) and Jeff Sorenson (2009) -- along with this year's Minnesota Senior Open champ, Derek Stendahl, and Augsburg College coach Eric Rolland.
Don Berry, Minnesota PGA Section's best player over the last three decades -- and a seven-time Tapemark champion -- complained on Friday that he shoots 70 or 71 every time he plays this year, "and never 67 or 68." That changed on Saturday, when he shot 68. He's part of a four-way tie for 14th at 138. Also in that foursome is Alex Gaugert, who's made more money on the golf course during the last couple of years than anyone else in this field. That's because his regular job is caddying for his former Gopher teammate Erik Van Rooyen.
Van Rooyen got his first victory as a professional at the Tapemark in 2016. But he's moved on since then, and in the last two PGA Tour seasons, he's collected $3.138 million in prize money. Most tour caddies get somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of their player's earnings, plus a weekly stipend of between $1,500 and $3,000.
Gaugert, who has this week off, will rejoin Van Rooyen for this coming week's U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
As for Fessler, he turned pro last July and chose not to try the Korn Ferry Q-School series because, as he explains it, "My game needed to be more pro golf ready."
It looked ready on Saturday. After parring the first three holes, he hit a sand wedge to the green at the par-5 fourth and two-putted for a birdie. A 9-iron to the sixth produced an eagled, and he followed that with a birdie at the par-4 seventh. His drive of nearly 400 yards at the downhill par-4 11th left him 20 feet from the cup, and he had the eagle putt on line, but it came up just short.
Fessler made up for a bogey at the 12th with a birdie at the 14th. On Friday, he hit a 5-iron at the 445-yard, par-4 16th, so that he could stay short of the water hazard, which is right around 300 yards from the tee -- and made a double bogey. On Saturday, he hit a driver and made a bogey.
"That was better than yesterday," he noted, with a grin.
Two more massive drives at the two closing par-5's left him with only gap wedges to the greens at the 17th and 18th holes, and he two-putted them both for birdies.
Doeden started on the back nine, and promptly bogeyed the par-3 10th. But he bounced right back with a birdie at the 11th. After making pars at the next three holes, he proceeded to run off four consecutive birdies, starting at the par-3 15th and ending with the 18th. Having birdied the first six par-5's he played this weekend, he neglected to birdie the seventh, No. 4, but a drive of 300-plus yards -- uphill -- and an 8-iron gave him an easy two-putt birdie at No. 6.
At that point, he was 10 under for the tournament. But a weak chip at the seventh left him a 10-footer for a par, and he missed it. Back to 9 under. At the 365-yard, par-4 eighth, he had a golden opportunity to recover that lost stroke. He flew his tee shot approximately 330 yards to the top of the hill left of the green, and the ball trickled down the hill, ending up in the right rough no more than seven or eight yards short of the green. Doeden tried a flop shot from there, but it came up 18 feet short, and he missed the birdie putt.
The 330-yard ninth could be drivable for anyone with Doeden's power, but there's water left and out of bounds right. He chose discretion over valor, and laid up with an iron off the tee. A wedge shot left him 25 feet past and above the pin. It was not a position from which to be aggressive. He two-putted for a par.
Tapemark Minnesota PGA Pro-Am
At Southview Country Club
Par 71, 6,125 yards
West St. Paul
1. Trey Fessler 65-65--130
2. Justin Doeden 66-67--133
3. Michael Schmitz 69-65--134
4. Thomas Campbell 70-65--135
T5. Andrew Israelson 63-73--136
T5. Brent Snyder 66-70---136
T5. Angus Flanagan 67-69--136
T5. Brian Hills 67-69--136
T5. Jack Gustafson 69-67--136
T10. Chris Meyer 67-70--137
T10. Derek Stendahl 70-67--137
T10. Eric Rolland 70-67--137
T10. Jeff Sorenson 70-67--137
T14. Don Berry 70-68--138
T14. Alex Gaugert 70-68--138
T14. Grant Shafranski 69-69--138
T14. Josh Whalen 69-69--138
18. Andy Smith 68-71--139]
1. Justin Smith 65-69--134
2. Scott Fenwick 70-69--139
3. Jesse Larson 67-73--140
T4. Andrew Boemer 68-74--142
T4. Sam Udovich 67-75--142
T4. Justin Burleson 71-71--142
7. Tyler Wood 72-72--144
8. Eric Hayne 73-72--145
ROUND 1 RECAP
An Opening Round 63 Gives Israelson the Early Lead at the Tapemark Minnesota PGA Pro-Am
By Mike Fermoyle
WEST ST. PAUL -- Andrew Israelson took one last crack at winning the Minnesota State Amateur last summer. He didn't win, but he wasn't that far back, tying for third.
That put him in a select group. He is one of only four players to finish in the top three for three consecutive years at the State Am. In a kind of weird twist, the four players are from two families. Carson Lee Herron actually had four top-3's in a row (2-1-2-T3) from 1932 to '35 during the State Am's Match Play Era. His grandson Tim Herron had a nice progression of T3-T2-1 from '90 to '92.
The only other player with three consecutive top-3 finishes in stroke play State Ams during the 20th Century was Israelson's father, Bill. He won in 1976, '77 and '78, and he remains the only winner of three consecutive State Ams during the Stroke Play Era. Andrew is the only player in the 21st Century with three straight top-3's. He finished second in 2019 and again in '20, before getting the tie for third last year.
Shortly thereafter he turned pro.
The usual procedure for guys who turn pro late in the summer is to play in the Korn Ferry Q-School Series. But Israelson decided not to. Instead, he spent the fall and winter working on his game, with the idea that he would be better prepared for Korn Ferry Q-School in 2022.
So far, his plan seems to be working pretty well. He made it through the PGA Tour Canada Q-School this spring, and the Canadian Tour will give him a place to further refine his game.
In the meantime, he's playing this week in the Tapemark & Minnesota PGA Pro-Am, and he's off to a good start, having shot an 8-under 63 at Southview Country Club on Friday in the opening round. He leads by two strokes over another recently turned professional, Trey Fessler. Brent Snyder, the three-time Minnesota Section PGA Player of the Year, is tied for third among the pros at 66, along with another member of this year's Canadian Tour, Justin Doeden.
Angus Flanagan, the former University of Minnesota All-American who won the 2021 Tapemark by 10 shots, is tied for fifth at 67, along with the 2020 champ, Chris Meyer, Brian Hills and another former Gopher, Cameron White. (Doeden is also a former Gopher.) Andy Smith, the leader of the Player of the Year points standings so far this year, shot 68 in spite of a knee that had him hobbling on Friday -- "I have no idea what I did to it." -- and he's alone in ninth.
There is a six-way tie for 10th at 69, and a 10-way tie for 16th at 70, which includes seven-time Tapemark champ Don Berry, a 17-time Minnesota PGA Player of the Year, and Jeff Sorenson, a six-time PGA Player of the Yeard and also a former Tapemark winner (2009). Also in the group is Derek Stendahl, the winner of this year's Minnesota State Senior Open.
The Tapemark was first played in 1972. It took the place of the Peters Open, which ran from 1960 to '71 at Southview. The overall championship of the Peters was won three times by amateurs -- Harry Simonson in 1964, Bob Lucas in '66, and Neil Croonquist in '68 -- but no amateur has ever beaten all of the pros in the 50-year history of the Tapemark.
That could change this year. There has never been a better collection of amateurs in the tournament, and they are led by University of Minnesota head coach Justin Smith, who shot 65 on Friday. A reinstated amateur, Smith made the putt that clinched the 2002 NCAA championship for the University of Minnesota. As a pro, he played on what is now the Korn Ferry and came close to making it onto the PGA Tour. He lost the State Open to Trent Peterson in a playoff in 2014, and he finished second in the 2016 Tapemark, behind the now wealthy former Gopher star Erik Van Rooyen, who has made more than $3 million on the PGA Tour, plus another couple of million euros. (Van Rooyen made $6,000 for winning the Tapemark, which was his first victory as a pro.)
As impressive as Smith's resume is, he might not be the best known of Ams in the field. Sam Udovich is a former National Drive, Chip and Putt champion who is now a freshman at St. Croix Lutheran. He shot 67 and is tied for second with Jesse Larson, who has been among Minnesota best amateur golfers for more than a decade.
The key to Flanagan's victory last year was his demolition of Southview's par-5's. His winning score was 198 (15 under) for 54 holes, and he was 13 under (9 birdies, 2 eagles) for the 12 par-5's that he played. On Friday, he could manage only 2 under (birdies on the 480-yard sixth hole and the 485-yard 18th).
But Israelson took a page of the Flanagan 2021 Playbook, and played the 5's in 5 under, with birdies at the fourth (470 yards), the sixth and the 17th, plus an eagle at the 18th. For good measure, he also birdied both of the par-3's on the front nine, the 175-yard second and the 201-yard fifth.
Fessler, who is prodigiously long even by the distorted modern standard, where 300- and even 310-yard drives are considered nothing special, was also minus 5 on the 5's, in exactly the same way, birdies on 4, 6 and 17, and an eagle at the 18th.
Doeden birdied all four. Snyder parred the fourth, but birdied 6, 17 and 18.
Tapemark & Minnesota PGA Pro-Am
At Southview Country Club
Par 71, 6,175 yards
West St. Paul
1. Andrew Israelson 63
2. Trey Fessler 65
T3. Brent Snyder 66
T3. Justin Doeden 66
T5. Angus Flanagan 67
T5. Chris Meyer 67
T5. Cameron White 67
T5. Brian Hills 67
9. Andy Smith 68
T10. Michael Schmitz 69
T10. Jonathan Reigstad 69
T10. Josh Whalen 69
T10. Marshall Hoiness 69
T10. Jack Gustafson 69
T10. Grant Shafranski 69
T16. Don Berry 70
T16. Jeff Sorensoh 70
T16. Derek Stendahl 70
T16. Thomas Campbell 70
T16. Eric Rolland 70
T16. Aaron Nelson 70
T16. Michael Mackedanz 70
T16. Matt Newman 70
T16. Alex Gaugert 70
T16. Ryan Gallagher 70
1. Justin Smith 65
T2. Jesse Larson 67
T2. Sam Udovich 67
4. Andrew Boemer 68
5. Troy Sawyer 69
T6. Scott Fenwick 70
T6. Jordan Anderson 70
T8. Justin Burleson 71
T8. Scott Gorden 71