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Barber wins Lakeland in close shave

Aaron Barber strikes the ball off the tee down the stretch on the Eagle Creek Golf Club back 9 of the Lakeland Tournament on Sunday. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)

WILLMAR -- Former touring pro Aaron Barber brought out the best in most everyone at the 80th Lakeland -- including himself.

The New London native fired a nine-under 207 for 54 holes to win by two strokes on Sunday at Eagle Creek. Three-time champion Andy Jacobson, Chase Thonvold and Rick Frieburg all finished at 209.

Barber, 37, stood three-under and tied for fifth after 27 holes on Saturday. On Sunday, in ideal conditions, he shot a 67 to pull into the lead by one and then and polished off the back 9 shooting a 35.

It was his first round of individual competitive golf in four years since he left the PGA Tour.

"Andy has been playing so well I figured someone had to come out here and make a run," joked Barber, who lives in Maple Grove. "Maybe it wasn't our best golf, but it felt pretty good."

Jacobson, 30, had done a lot of talking to get Barber back in the competitive spirit. The two had played some best-ball tournaments together, but Barber said he hadn't competed alone since the 2006 Q-school in California where he failed in a bid to regain his PGA Tour card.

"It was different out there today," said Jacobson, who won the Early Bird here on June 6. "It was more intense. It's a different level when you put him in the mix."

Barber made some big-time saves on three of the last four holes. Each time an errant drive left him in the rough with trees to navigate; still, he got up and down in par each time.

"He hit some big-time balls when he needed to," said Jacobson.

Jacobson took a double-bogey on the 16th, a straightforward short par 3. He yanked a five-iron onto the road and had to re-tee, and this time, ended up off the green and two-putted.

There was a three-stroke swing on No. 11 where Barber's tee shot bumped through the branches of a tree and ended up on the green from where he made eagle. Jacobson's tee shot hit off a tree, too, but his ended up in a hazard resulting in a bogey.

After firing a 68 Sunday morning, Frieburg was one stroke behind after 45 holes. The one-time teammate of Tom Lehman at Alexandria High School and a former Resorters champion never faltered, but he couldn't make any long putts either to get even with Barber.

Thonvold was easily the hottest golfer in the starting field of 30 on Saturday. The ex-Willmar Cardinal went seven-under 33-35-33 as the field played front-back-front. He opened with a 74 on Sunday and finish with a 34 on the back for an even-par second day.

Gordy Diekman, a St. Cloud State golfer from Alexandria and the 2007 runner-up, finished in a fifth-place tie with Bart Bradford.

The 16-player senior match-play title was won by Norm Strehlow, 4-and-3 over Tom Wodash.


(1) Aaron Barber 105-67-35-207 (2) tie, Chase Thonvold 101-74-34-209, Andy Jacobson 102-71-36-209; Rick Frieburg 105-68-36-209 (5) tie, Gordy Diekman 107-73-35-215; Bart Bradford 103-75-37-215; (7) Chris Sholts 106-75-35-216 (8) Matt Gorans 104-76-41-221 (9) tie, Eddie Orzonia 108-76-38-222, Josh Hagstrom 113-69-40-222 (11) Mark Bonnema 111-79-36-226 (12) Greg Peterson 110-79-39-228 (13) tie, Chad Pendill 111-76-42-229, Jack Dressen 112-83-34-229 (15) tie, Shawn Bohlsen 114-75-41-230; Chuck Weiler 118-77-35-230 (17) Jeff Asche 116-79-36-231 (18) Ross Magnuson 113-77-44-234 (19) tie, Paul Hannig 112-82-43-237; Pete Hannig 118-81-38-237 (21) Wade Thonvold 118-83-39-240


FIRST ROUND -- Norm Strehlow def. Rick Wolfe 6&5; Mac Habicht def. Jerry Barney 2&1; Mark Irgens def. Dave Mohs 3&2; Mike Vennerstrom def. Howie Swift 2&1; Dave Thonvold def. Bruce Olson 6&4; Bryant Bergstrom def. Neil Tagawa 4&3; Dan Heath def. Drew Ryder 1 up; Tom Wodash def. Craig Strand 9&7

QUARTERFINALS -- Strehlow def. Habicht 2&1; Vennerstrom def. Irgens 3&2; Bergstrom def. Thonvold 1-up; Wodash def. Heath 8&6

SEMIFINALS -- Strehlow def Vennerstrom 4&3; Wodash def. Bergstrom 2&1

CHAMPIONSHIP -- Strehlow def. Wodash 4&3

CONSOLATION -- Swift def. Ryder 8&7


SEMIFINALS -- Sam Warzecha def. Josh Jenson 6-5; Jimmy Johnson def. Troy Engebrestson 22 holes

FINALS -- Johnson def. Warzecha 3&1

CONSOLATION -- Peter Nyberg def. Jeff Van Horn 5&3

First Flight

SEMIFINALS -- (1) Rod Johnson def. Ray Poage 2&1; Don Alter def. Shannon Severson 3&2

FINAL -- Johnson def. Alter 3&2

Super Senior

(36 holes) Larry Peart def. Dan Ridler 4&3.

Last year Jacobson beat Matt Gorans in a playoff after both shot a three-over 219. Barber's 207 resets the tournament record score of 213 shot on three occasions since the event went to 54 holes in 2005.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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