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Resorters Golf: Haugen gets his shot at Senior Men's repeat

Chris Haugen, the defending champion in the Men's Senior Division, rolls a putt to the cup in his match Friday. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)1 / 3
Jon Empanger rolls in a short putt on Friday. Empanger competed without an opponent as he advanced to today's Senior Division championship. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)2 / 3
Senior Men's Championship Division competitor John Gardiner of Wayzata chips onto the green Friday. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press) 3 / 3

After winning his first Resorters title a year ago, Alexandria’s Chris Haugen said his game generally hadn’t held up over the course of a whole week that it takes to win a championship in this tournament.

Fast forward to this week, though, and the 2017 Senior Division champ is one win away from repeating.

Haugen shot 2-under through 15 holes on Friday in a 4-3 win over John Gardiner of Wayzata. He will now face an eight-time Resorters champion in Chaska’s Jon Empanger after Empanger won on Friday when Steve Herzog had to forfeit that match due to a health reason.

Here’s a summary of Haugen’s victory:

Haugen def. Gardiner, 4-3

Haugen’s long chip in for eagle on No. 11 -- his second eagle of the day -- summarized his round on Friday: Things were going to go his way.

“That was the highlight of the round, eagling 6 and the par-four 11th when I chipped in for eagle from the side of the green,” he said.

Haugen turned both eagles into wins, which helped fuel a 4-3 win over Gardiner.

“I felt good about the way I was striking the ball,” Haugen said.

He needed that groove because of a small deficit early on. Haugen parred No. 1, but Garinder birdied to grab a 1-up lead. Two holes later, though, Gardiner bogeyed to level back to all square.

Haugen picked up his second par win on No. 5. He then eagled on the par-5 No. 6 with a big drive and a wedge shot into about four feet, which grew his lead to 2-up. Gardiner got one back with a birdie win on No. 7, but Haugen still carried a 1-up edge into the turn.

Gardiner looked to erase his deficit when he birdied on No. 11. Instead, the difference grew on him as Haugen sunk the long chip shot for eagle and a 2-up advantage.

After matching pars on Nos. 12 and 13, Haugen put the match to rest when he turned Gardiner bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15 into par wins, closing out a 4-3 victory and securing his spot in today’s championship.

“My ball striking is really good,” Haugen said. “My putting has been a little sketchy, so I’m going to need that to be better (Saturday) to beat Jon Empanger. He’s really good.”

Haugen has never played head-to-head against Empanger, but he qualified in the same foursome as him last year and saw firsthand what has made him a dominant figure in this tournament for many years.

“(Empanger) doesn’t make any bogeys,” Haugen said. “He hits it down the middle of the fairway on every hole. He’s just a solid, very good golfer.”

Haugen knows he needs to be on top of his game on Saturday in order to go back-to-back.

“I’m going to need to make a lot of birdies to beat him. That’s my mindset going in,” he said. “But you never know. Anybody can beat anybody on a given day in this tournament. There’s a lot of really good players, and the Senior Division is loaded this year with a lot of talent. You’re always optimistic. … It will be very fun.”

SATURDAY’S PAIRING - 1ST TEE

12:30 p.m. - Chris Haugen vs. Jon Empanger

Micah Friez contributed to this story.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

(320) 763-1229
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