Resorters: Alexandria's Haugen gets a second straight senior title
Alexandria's Chris Haugen thought for sure he would have to make quite a few birdies in order to beat eight-time Resorters champion Jon Empanger in the Senior Division championship.
It did not turn out that way on Saturday. Haugen got a couple birdies - one on No. 6 and another on No. 11 - but it was his overall steady game all day that allowed him to come away with his second straight Resorters title.
"I couldn't make a lot of putts today," Haugen said. "Fortunately, I made a lot of pars, some key par saves, and he didn't make a lot of birdies. That helped. He's steady, he's in the fairway on every hole, but I made a lot of pars. That ended up being the difference on a bit of a windy day where pins were a little bit tucked on some holes. Pars were good enough today."
The match went to the 18th hole, but both players missed birdie putts and settled for pars as Haugen won 1-up. Empanger, from Chaska, saw his birdie attempt roll around almost every inch of the cup before lipping out.
Haugen said he missed some putts down the stretch that could have helped him avoid going to the 18th hole, but it was a putt on 13 that proved to be a difference maker. He hit into the sand on that hole and bladed his bunker shot almost over the green, leaving him looking at a likely bogey loss. Instead, he sank a near 50-footer for a par to halve the hole with Empanger.
"I think that really turned the match around," Haugen said. "(I) was 2-up, and I'm sure he thought he was going to (win one back) because he was 15 feet for birdie. I knocked that in and he two putts and I'm still 2-up. I missed a number of putts coming down to the end that would have made it a little easier on myself, but he's a competitor. I knew he wasn't going to go away, and I just couldn't put him away."
Empanger stayed two down through 15 before he cut his deficit to one by winning 16 with a par. Haugen remained steady from there, parring Nos. 17 and 18 to secure the win.
After coming up short in previous years at the Resorters, Haugen has made himself the man to beat in the Senior Division the last two summers.
"I think my ball striking is the key," he said. "I can hit it a long ways, and that helps me on a lot of holes. That gives me an advantage on a number of them. I just wasn't able to take quite as much advantage as I was hoping on some of them today. 12, I was 120 yards on my second shot and didn't make birdie, but got the win and I'm very happy."
It capped off a big week for him as he qualified with a 2-under 70 and then grabbed 8-6, 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 and 1-up victories during a busy week of match play.
"It was really fun to have all the friends and family out watching," Haugen said. "The first (championship) is pretty fun. This is nice. There was a great field, and to win five straight matches is hard."