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MGA Golf: Jacobson wins MGA Players' Championship

INDEPENDENCE -- Andy Jacobson won his sixth straight match in three long days to claim the title of the 34th Minnesota Golf Association Players' Championship at Windsong Farm.

The 32-year-old Willmar insurance agent defeated Tim Hamm of Rush Creek (Maple Grove) 4 and 3.

"It was by far my biggest win," Jacobson said on his drive home Wednesday night. "I had never won a state tournament. That was big."

Jacobson, whose home course is Eagle Creek Golf Club, parred the 499-yard, par 4 hole while Hamm bogeyed on No. 15.

Jacobson, the tourney's No. 27-seed never trailed and was 2-up at the turn after getting a birdie on No. 9, a 635-yard par 5, a hole he also birdied in the morning round.

"That was the thing, being in front," Jacobson said.

"That's huge in match play so the emphasis was getting out (to a lead) early."

Play was suspended in the championship match for more than 90 minutes due to lightening near the course south of Maple Plain.

In the morning semifinals, Jacobson held on to defeat Colton Buege, 20, of Rogers 2 and 1.

Jacobson was 5-up through 11 holes before faltering.

Buege, a redshirt freshman on the Minnesota Gophers golf team, won the next three holes as Jacobson went par, double-bogey six, double-bogey six.

On No. 15, both golfers bogeyed and Jacobson remained 2-up. When both golfers parred 16 and 17, Jacobson advanced to the finals of one of MGA's most prestigious events.

He never trailed in the semifinals, leading 2-up after two holes.

He built the lead to five with a remarkable string of three straight birdies -- a 4 on the 635-yard ninth hole, a 2 on the 191-yard 10th and a 3 on the 422-yard 11th. But it got exciting when the son of Eagle Creek head pro Joel Jacobson played 5-over golf the next four holes.

It was his fifth match-play victory in the three-day tournament which starts with a 64-player field. Competitors play two matches, walking each round, as long as they keep on winning.

The par 71 layout played at 7,346 yards.

Jacobson held convincing leads at the end of all six matches. He won his first match Monday morning 2 and 1, then took out the next three opponents, each 3 and 2, before Wednesday's victories ended after the 16th and the 15th holes.

Jacobson is the current Lakeland Tournament champion and won the Early Bird at Eagle Creek on June 4.

The Players' Championship was special for many reasons, he said.

His wife Sara, father Joel and other friends and family were with his during his rounds.

"I had a nice little cheering section there," he said.

Jacobson's cousin, Nathan Zaffke, caddied all six rounds, too.

"He just finished dental school and had a little down time, and he said 'I'll be there,' " Jacobson said. "He'd been there with me in the past so it was nice to have him on the bag. We'd shoot the breeze a little bit."

But even with his support group, coping with nerves was a constant for Jacobson.

"I love match play, so you focus on that first round and keep going after that," he said of the 64-player field. "Once you get down to 16, you start thinking, 'I can do this.' But six matches like that, physically it's a grind and mentally, it's brutal."

Jacobson made the three hour round trip all three days between Willmar and a course he called once of the best in the state. By Wednesday night, he was certain exhaustion would put him out early once he got home. But he would sleep a very contented sleep.

"It's was pretty emotional," Jacobson said. "I'm thankful it worked out this way."

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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